Handing over the baton in Ottawa

FIFA Women's World Cup Germany 2011™ just around the corner, Canada 2015 on the horizon – that in a nutshell was the theme in the Canadian capital of Ottawa on Friday 11 March, at the tenth stage of the FIFA/OC Welcome Tour for Germany 2011.

OC President Steffi Jones used the meeting in the Fairmont Chateau Laurier hotel as a perfect opportunity to congratulate Canada on their recent selection as host nation of 2015 edition of the women's showpiece. "Canada have already shown with their successful hosting of the FIFA U-20 World Cup in 2007 that they have everything it takes to organise a FIFA tournament.

"The Women's World Cup 2015 will represent a milestone in the history of our sport since it will be the first time that 24 countries are taking part in the tournament," said Jones at the one-hour informational event.

The President of the Canadian Football Association Dominique Maestracci, Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s wife Laureen, Minister for Sport Gary Lunn, German Ambassador to Ottawa Dr. Georg Witschel and Mayor of Ottawa Jim Watson were among the 150 guests invited by FIFA and the OC.

"The Women's World Cup 2011 in Germany will set new standards not only in terms of organisation but also as far as promoting women’s football around the world is concerned,” said FA supremo Maestracci. “I look forward to continuing this success story in 2015."

A delegation from the Canadian FA will carry out an inspection tour this summer at the FIFA Women's World Cup in Germany, paying close attention to core areas of organisation such as ticketing, security, media facilities, accreditation and hospitality.

Symbolic exchange
In a symbolic handing over of the baton between the current hosts of the FIFA Women’s World Cup and the next country in line, Jones presented Maestracci with a captain’s armband and a pennant in the colours of the German and Canadian FA's, which bears the numbers 2011 and 2015.

As well as the links created between the 2011 and 2015 tournaments, everyone at the Welcome Tour event was buzzing about the Opening Match of Germany 2011. The hosts take on Canada on 26 June in the Olympic Stadium in Berlin, with the news that more than 60,000 tickets for the match had already been snapped up being very well received by the Canadians.

"Playing in the Opening Match against the World Cup holders in a sold-out Olympic Stadium in Berlin is the best thing that could have happened to us,” said Canada coach Carolina Morace. “My players can hardly wait for the kick-off on 26 June. It will be a unique test, but the pressure will be on the Germans."

The Opening Match is now guaranteed to break the record for the number of fans at a women’s football match in Europe, which currently stands at 44,500 for the game between Germany and Brazil in the Frankfurt FIFA World Cup Arena on 22 April 2009.

"Selling more than 60,000 tickets for the Opening Match in Berlin over 100 days before the World Cup starts is testament to the excitement surrounding the tournament,” said OC President Jones. “More important for us than any record attendances, though, is the fact that fans are flocking to all of the venues."

Former international-turned-TV pundit Jason de Vos was named as a Super Fan by Jones, and like those before him in the various other countries already visited on the Welcome Tour, he received a German women’s team jersey from tournament mascot Karla Kick. The next stop on the FIFA/OC Welcome Tour will be Rio de Janeiro on 21 March 2011.