Jordan is today looking forward to the draw for the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup 2016, which will take place in the capital Amman on 30 May. In the run-up to the eagerly awaited event, which will determine the make-up of the group stage at the next U-17 Women’s World Cup, the Local Organising Committee (LOC) and FIFA held a press conference to discuss the details of the draw, while the tournament's official mascot was also revealed.
In front of a large media presence, Tatjana Haenni, Deputy Director of FIFA’s Competitions Division and Head of Women’s Competitions, and Samar Nassar, the Executive Director of the LOC talked about a range of aspects of this significant event. FIFA.com brings you the most important issues discussed at this press conference.
All eyes on the draw
LOC Executive Director Nassar began the press conference by welcoming the representatives of FIFA and the many members of the media present, before adding that “the draw is a major event which everyone’s eyes will be on. Many officials will attend and it will be sponsored by Prince Ali bin Hussein, the President of the Jordan Football Association," she continued. "There will also be a number of guests there. In the coming days the teams taking part in the World Cup and all the parties involved in the event will be holding a number of workshops. There will also be tours of all the stadiums and hotels. We’re really happy and enthusiastic about hosting the draw procedure.”
For her part, Haenni revealed details of the draw procedure and the distribution of the teams taking part in the tournament: “The 16 teams have been divided into four pots according to their rankings in the four previous editions of the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup. The points scored by each team in each previous edition, from the most recent to the oldest, are taken into account. Five extra points have also been given to every team which has won their continental championship on the way to qualifying for this World Cup.
“The teams will be divided into four pots," she continued. "The first pot contains the teams which will be at the head of each group. These are the host country, Jordan, and the three best-ranked teams – current world champions Japan, as well as Germany and Korea DPR. In the second pot are Nigeria, Spain, Venezuela and Ghana. The third pot includes Canada, USA, Mexico and Brazil, and in the fourth are New Zealand, England, Paraguay, and Cameroon.
“As usual the draw will be carried out in order, from the first to the fourth pot and the teams will be distributed among Groups A, B, C and D, and each team will be given a number in its group from 1 to 4.”
Before the draw, it is important to remember that, according to FIFA rules, no group can include more than one team from the same football confederation.
*Leading sportswomen to help at the draw *Nassar also announced the names of those who will be on stage on Monday to help with the draw procedure, with the LOC choosing four of Jordan’s most well-known sportswomen. These include Paralympic star Maha Barghouthi, who has won over 50 gold medals over the course of her career. Taekwondo star Dana Haider Touran will also be there, and she has won silver medals at the Youth Olympic Games and the Taekwondo World Championships and is now getting ready for the 2016 Olympics in Rio.
Jordanian women’s football will be represented by Stephanie Al-Naber, captain of the women’s football team and the first professional Jordanian woman footballer to play in Europe, as well as her team-mate Yasmeen Khair, who was previously a gymnastics star before embarking on a football career. Khair has also been selected as a local ambassador for the U-17 Women’s World Cup.
*Tournament mascot announced *During the press conference, there was a happy surprise for everyone, when Aseela the tournament mascot was announced. She will be one of the U-17 Women World Cup’s most important ambassadors. Aseela is an Arabian oryx, one of the rare and beautiful animals that live in Jordan.
Nassar revealed the reason why this particular animal was chosen as the official mascot of the U-17 Women's World Cup: “It wasn’t difficult to choose the Arabian oryx. It’s strong, gentle, and athletic and thus has the same qualities of Jordanian women footballers. Aseela will have a major role in attracting support from the local community for this historic tournament. In Aseela we have a mascot who will not only appeal to the national identity of Jordanian football fans but who also celebrates the strength of the female soul.”
It is hoped that Aseela will inject vitality to the women’s football scene in Jordan by inspiring young women across Jordan and the region to take part in and watch the beautiful game.
*Popular support and future legacy *
Nassar emphasised that the LOC will spare no effort in attracting fans to the tournament from all sectors of society. Marketing campaigns will be carried out, aimed at informing the public of the importance of this event and encouraging them to attend the matches at the stadiums. Nassar said that campaigns in schools and universities will have top priority, while it is particularly important that young women attend these matches and take more interest in football, a game which is becoming more and more popular in Jordan.
Haenni said that hosting the tournament in Jordan will not only bring benefits in the three weeks when the matches will take place, but also in the years to come. It will have an effect on all sectors of football in Jordan, providing a large number of training pitches and improving the infrastructure of the large stadiums where the matches will be held. Hosting this international tournament will give a great boost to women’s football in Jordan and in the rest of the Middle East, allowing it to advance and reach globally competitive levels.