Nine Host Cities announced
© AFP

Nine cities across Germany have been selected to host the 32 matches at the FIFA Women's World Cup 2011. The first FIFA Women's World Cup on German soil kicks off on 26 June 2011 at the Berlin Olympic stadium with the opening ceremony and the Opening Match featuring the host nation, the only events scheduled for the capital. The tournament continues in Augsburg, Bochum, Dresden, Frankfurt, Leverkusen, Monchengladbach, Sinsheim and Wolfsburg, and concludes with the Final on 17 July in Frankfurt. In the final match schedule, to be issued by FIFA by the end of the year, each host city is likely to be allocated a maximum of four matches.

The decision by the German FA (DFB) Executive Committee was announced exactly 1000 days before the Opening Match on Tuesday 30 September 2008 at the Chancellery in Berlin, in the presence of Chancellor Dr. Angela Merkel, Organising Committee President Steffi Jones, and the DFB Executive headed by Dr. Theo Zwanziger.

"Germany leads the way in women's football, as evidenced by the outstanding proposals we received. We have now selected nine host cities. Fans in Germany can look forward to a joyful and top-quality festival of world football. Just like the fairytale in summer 2006, the FIFA Women's World Cup 2011 will further enhance the image and reputation of our nation," commented DFB President Dr. Theo Zwanziger.

The DFB Executive, which convened on Tuesday specifically to consider the exceptionally high-quality bids from all eleven candidate cities, was obliged to take into account regional distribution as an additional selection criterion. As the sole candidates from Bavaria and Baden-Wurttemberg, where almost 40 percent of all DFB members are registered, Augsburg and Sinsheim were thus not open to debate. The same applied to Wolfsburg, the sole candidate from the North German FA, and also representing the Bremen, Hamburg, Lower Saxony and Schleswig-Holstein regional associations. A special status accrued to Berlin as venue for the Opening Match, and to Frankfurt and Monchengladbach, with high-capacity stadiums capable of staging the most attractive matches. Stadium size will be an important factor in maximising ticket sales revenue to help cover the €51 million budget for the event.

As the North-East German FA named two candidates in Dresden and Magdeburg, and the West German Football and Athletic Association proposed four candidates, one candidate from each association could not be selected as a host city. A glance at a map underlines the geographical advantages of Dresden, with its potential to attract interest from a large surrounding area, thus giving it a decisive advantage over Magdeburg, which is located just 80 kilometres from Wolfsburg.

The situation regarding the West German Football and Athletic Association was particularly problematic. Here, Bochum's location at the heart of the traditionally vibrant and wide-ranging Ruhr Valley football scene called for its inclusion. However, the Executive wished to recognise the strong commitment to girls' and women's football made by all three regional associations- Westphalia (Bochum and Bielefeld), Mid-Rhine (Leverkusen) and Lower Rhine (Monchengladbach). After careful consideration of the arguments for and against, Leverkusen was preferred to Bielefeld.

FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter, guest of honour at the Chancellery, commented: "The announcement of the venues is a milestone on the road to the FIFA Women's World Cup 2011. The host cities are a vital component of any FIFA event, and will make a decisive contribution to the success of the World Cup. I'm looking forward to a productive partnership with the World Cup host cities."

The €51 million budget for the FIFA Women's World Cup 2011, a figure agreed with FIFA, was approved by the DFB Executive in Berlin on Monday. The sum will be raised from just two sources of revenue - ticket sales and National Supporter licence fees. The final number of host cities was directly dependent on the size of the budget.

"At the end of the day, we were presented with eleven outstanding applications. Unfortunately, we were obliged to choose between them, as incorporating all the candidates would not be economically viable. The more stadiums, the more expensive the event, and in contrast to practically all other major international events, the OC is not asking for any public subsidy," explained DFB General Secretary Wolfgang Niersbach.

"The effort and commitment which has gone into all eleven bids is truly impressive. Magdeburg and Bielefeld remain valued partners of the DFB, and we would today explicitly confirm that both cities will be invited to host matches in the near future featuring our women's national team in the run-up to the 2011 finals," Dr. Theo Zwanziger commented. Magdeburg, which staged a Germany women's international against Denmark on 29 July 2007, in any case already features in DFB plans as a tournament venue in the near future. The city will stage the Final of the U-17 European championships in May 2009, and on 10 October 2008, just a few days from now, the decisive U-21 European championship play-off between Germany and France. From 2009, Magdeburg will also host the DFB Women's Indoor Cup.

The nine FIFA Women's World Cup 2011 stadiums boast a total capacity of 330,000 seats, ranging by venue from 23,000 in Bochum to almost 75,000 at the Berlin Olympic stadium, venue for the 2006 FIFA World Cup™ Final between Italy and France. The sixth FIFA Women's World Cup kicks off at the stadium on 26 June 2011, where organisers hope a capacity crowd will provide the initial spark for a magnificent and festive tournament. A total of approximately one million match tickets will be offered for general sale.

"A 75,000 full house at the Olympic stadium would be a new European record for women's football. This is certainly one of our targets," commented Niersbach. The all-time record attendance was set at the FIFA Women's World Cup 1999 Final, when 90,000 spectators watched the USA play China at the Rose Bowl in Los Angeles on 10 July 1999.