With just one day to go until the FIFA Women's World Cup 2011™ Opening Match between hosts Germany and Canada, FIFA and the Local Organising Committee (LOC) held a press conference in Berlin.
Addressing the gathered media representatives were FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter, LOC President Steffi Jones, FIFA Head of Women's Competitions Tatjana Haenni, Chairman of the FIFA Committee for Women's Football and the FIFA Women's World Cup Worawi Makudi, and FIFA Executive Committee member Michel D'Hooghe. FIFA.com rounds up all the key topics...
FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter
"First of all I'd like to thank you all for your interest in the FIFA Women's World Cup 2011. The importance of this event is underlined by the fact that the Opening Match at the Berlin Olympiastadion is sold out – just as the Final of the men's FIFA World Cup was in 2006. I'm delighted to be here along with Federal President Christian Wulff and Steffi Jones to officially open the tournament tomorrow."
On Germany as hosts of the FIFA Women's World Cup 2011
"The FIFA Women's World Cup 2011 is going to set a new milestone in the development of women's football. Why? Because this World Cup is taking place in Germany, a country anchored in the heart of European football. It's going to be a great tournament. It's great for women's football around the world that in a country where men's football plays such a major role, you can also sense the enthusiasm for the women's game. I'm convinced that we're going to see some fantastic football and some outstanding refereeing performances."
On the potential of women's football
"The potential of women's football lies within youth. We need to start getting young girls involved in football like we do with boys – at four, five or six years old. Girls can do it too. I come from the small canton of Wallis and there are even football schools there. Furthermore, more national leagues need to be founded so that women are in the same position as men from the outset. Many of our 208 member associations only have a women's national team, perhaps U-17s and U-20s, but no leagues. This is something we need to address."
On the amount of prize money in women's football
"Personally I am somewhat surprised that it isn't more. I'll be speaking to our Finance Committee about this. It does look positive."
On the number of FIFA Women's World Cup 2011 matches he will attend
"I will definitely be at the Opening Match, the semi-finals and the Final. Unfortunately I can't attend any more live. If you look at the international football calendar you'll realise that there are lot of tournaments taking place simultaneously. In July I've got a meeting with the IOC (International Olympic Committee) in Durban. There's also the FIFA U-17 World Cup taking place in Mexico at the moment. Then in a few weeks' time there's the FIFA U-20 World Cup in Colombia."
Steffi Jones, President of the FIFA Women's World Cup 2011 Local Organising Committee (LOC)
"There is huge amount of anticipation surrounding the FIFA Women's World Cup. I'm excited because it's finally kicking off tomorrow. The focus is on the World Cup, beginning with the clash between Nigeria and France tomorrow – another match which is almost sold-out. There are only 200-300 tickets left, which shows just how well the World Cup has been received across the entire country. 720,000 tickets have been sold in total – and the number is increasing every day."
On Sunday's Opening Match
"The stage is set. I've already seen a bit of the Opening Ceremony [in rehearsal] and I have to say, I'm itching for it to start. I'll be so happy when it finally does tomorrow. The weather seems to be playing ball."
On the quality of football
"We can't wait to watch all the players perform, to see their tricks and find out who will become the new face of their national team or even the World Cup. I really am incredibly excited. As a neutral host all I can say is: may the best team win!"
On working with FIFA
"My thanks go to FIFA and FIFA President. It really has been great working with them. I received their full support from the very first day and with our Welcome Tour we were really able to drive the development of women's football."