A number of high-profile women’s football representatives convened at the residence of German ambassador Dr Klaus Scharioth in Washington on Monday 28 March 2011 for the 13th stop of the official FIFA Women’s World Cup 2011™ Welcome Tour. Among the 150 special guests were Organising Committee (OC) President Steffi Jones, international ambassador Mia Hamm and another former USA icon in Kristine Lilly.
"Although the US women’s team were made to sweat over their World Cup qualification, I still believe they’re one of the hot favourites for the title. Personally I’m very much looking forward to seeing two of my former team-mates, Abby Wambach and Lori Lindsey, appear at the tournament,” said Jones. “Owing to my American roots and the wonderful time I spent with the Washington Freedom between 2002 and 2003, I feel a very close bond with the USA and I always look forward to coming back.”
Equally positive on the North Americans' chances was Lilly, the United States' all-time most-capped player: “There are plenty of previous examples of teams having a difficult time in qualifying and then going on to perform well at the finals. Why shouldn’t that be the case for us?”
The Welcome Event in Washington brought a conclusion to the South and North American leg of the Tour, which encompassed Brazil, Colombia and the USA. The OC delegation were greeted along the way by football legends such as Zico, Carlos Alberto, Carlos Valderrama and Hamm, all of whom professed their enthusiasm and respect for Germany as FIFA Women’s World Cup 2011 hosts, as well as their support for women’s football on the whole.
Steffi Jones attended numerous media conferences on each stop of the Tour, giving interviews with Brazilian TV channel O Globo, Colombian radio station Caracol and the USA's CNN Worldsport, The New York Times, ESPN, USA Today and Associated Press (AP). “This Welcome Tour has shown us that the 2011 Women’s World Cup is making an extraordinary contribution to the international development and popularity of women’s football. The tournament is going to set a new benchmark which takes women’s football to a new level worldwide,” said Hamm.
Following 180 flight hours and 120,000 kilometres, the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2011 Welcome Tour will come to a close this Saturday 2 April 2011, in the North Korean capital of Pyongyang.