The Germany women's team and the Organising Committee (OC) for the FIFA Women's World Cup 2011 both have reason to be satisfied at the present time. After three weeks in Finland, Germany have been crowned European champions for the seventh time after their 6-2 defeat of England in the final , and the OC has gained valuable insights and experience in both organisational and sporting matters. "Three of our experts were in Finland, surveying the tournament as a whole and speaking with a large number of officials," commented OC President Steffi Jones. "We'll closely analyse their findings over the coming weeks." FIFA Women's World Cup 2011 OC personnel Ulrich Wolter (general coordinator), Winfried Nass (cities and stadiums) and Heike Ullrich (tournament organisation) inspected the stadiums in Helsinki, Tampere, Turku and Lahti as part of an observation tour.
The OC President and German FA (DFB) team manager Doris Fitschen were impressed by the standards at the European tournament, featuring a starting field of 12 for the first time. "The pace and the level of skill have increased dramatically. Many of the games have been close, with hardly any easy victories," commented Fitschen. The 40-year-old welcomed proposals under consideration by European governing body UEFA for expanding the tournament to 16 teams. "I'm totally in favour of this being introduced just four years from now," Fitschen said at a news briefing with German and international media representatives in Finnish capital Helsinki on Monday.
The mechanism of a 12-team tournament was "sub-optimal" and "complicated to organise," Fitschen observed. Jones agreed with her colleague, citing the extremely rapid development of the women's game. "Everything has become much more professional. The players are more athletic, the pace has continued to increase. I certainly couldn't play myself these days," admitted the former international, capped 111 times by Germany, and herself a European Championship winner at the 2005 finals in England.
Home teams as the main attraction - "Stars draw the crowds"
In the opinion of the two experts, the EURO in Finland has confirmed the home team's function as the main attraction, drumming up enthusiasm for the entire tournament. The matches contested by the Finnish women's team in Helsinki drew crowds of around 16,000. "The best thing we have is our national team," acknowledged Jones. "Our team is the crowd-puller for the World Cup, and I'm including the next two years. We want to mobilise the masses and fill the stadiums," agreed Fitschen.
However, the OC and the DFB intend to specifically highlight other nations' star players in the period up to the 2011 finals, broadening the appeal of women's football. "Stars pull in the crowds," summarised Fitschen. "On 29 October, when Germany play the USA at the World Cup Arena in Augsburg, we'll be staging nothing less than a get-together of the game's top stars," added the OC President.
"We want full stadiums at the World Cup. Our goal is sell-out crowds, even for the matches not involving Germany," continued Jones. Persuasive advertising will be a vital element in fulfilling this ambitious target. The OC President pointed out that 29 October also marked the start of ticket sales for the FIFA Women's World Cup 2011. As of this date, Venue Specific Tickets for the sixth FIFA Women's World Cup may be ordered via the internet.
Jones described the Venue Specific Tickets as a highly attractive opportunity to witness the matches in person. Fans from the surrounding region can secure tickets for all matches to be played at their nearest venue. The match schedule ensures that every stadium will host matches involving top teams. "We hope the city authorities also make it their goal to fill the stadiums," explained Fitschen.
U-20 finals in 2010 to whet the appetite
Initiatives to publicise the FIFA Women's World Cup 2011 outside Germany will be intensified once qualifying is complete and the draw made in December 2010. Fans from all over the world were an essential part of a FIFA Women's World Cup, declared Fitschen: "We're assuming that most of the fans will come from Germany. However, overseas visitors give any World Cup its special flair. We want the World Cup to be a multicultural festival."
Steffi Jones described the FIFA U-20 Women's World Cup 2010 from 13 July to 1 August in Augsburg, Bielefeld, Bochum and Dresden as the perfect appetizer for the FIFA Women's World Cup the following summer. "We'll do our very best to make the 2010 finals a success. We want to build up a sense of anticipation. Some of the young players who appear in 2010 will play for their senior teams in 2011," Jones said.