FIFA U-17 Women's World Cup 2016
Praise for Jordan at pre-final press conference
19 Oct 2016
With two days to go until the final of the FIFA U-17 Women's World Cup Jordan 2016, FIFA and the tournament's Local Organising Committee (LOC) held a joint press conference at their Amman headquarters.
The tone was overwhelmingly positive, with figures shown to demonstrate the impressive online interest levels, and a video broadcast in which legacy projects were highlighted and Jordan 2016 was hailed as a "perfect tournament" by FIFA's Director of Women's Competitions, Tatjana Haenni. It was also confirmed that FIFA President Gianni Infantino will attend Friday's final between Korea DPR and Japan.
In attendance at the press conference were Haenni herself, Samar Nassar, CEO of the LOC, and Salah Sabrah, Chairman of the LOC .
I must begin by thanking and congratulating the LOC and the Jordan Football Association on doing a really wonderful job. From our side, we can say this tournament has been a real success, and everyone involved can be very proud of their achievements.
We have, of course, talked a lot about legacy and I'm pleased to say that what we anticipated at the start of this tournament has come to pass. There has been so much that has gone on - infrastructure improvements, upgrades in stadium and training grounds, education and development work, Live Your Goals courses, social projects with refugees - and all of it has been done to ensure we leave a genuine legacy.
My hope is that Jordan sees this as just the start. There are challenges ahead but I hope that everyone in the country will contribute and continue to grow women's football. I also think Jordan is a key driver for women's football in this region, and my wish is that other countries and decision-makers in the Middle East will see you as an example and follow you.
On ticket sales
When the LOC chairman says he is 100 per cent satisfied in this respect, I totally agree. In fact, I see it as a huge success. From what I understand, there has been a change in culture witnessed at this tournament. I know that, previously, it was only men - real hardcore football fans - who went to the stadiums to watch matches. Here, we have seen lots of families at the matches, with women, girls and boys all enjoying the football in a nice environment. Filling stadiums for women's youth football matches is a challenge everywhere in the world. Considering the background here in Jordan, I think the LOC have done extremely well in this respect, and hopefully we will see even more spectators when Jordan hosts the AFC Women's Championship in 2018.
Although the closing ceremony is only two days away, we started this journey three years ago. We had a legacy we wanted to achieve and I think we have taken some very important steps. Building our infrastructure, stadiums and 14 training fields to meet FIFA's standards was very significant, and we have also succeeded in training a lot of staff to a high level. Taking those steps will undoubtedly help support Jordanian football going forward, and benefit the community too.
I am very proud of our staff and volunteers. I was also extremely proud to see 14,000 spectators at the stadium for the opening ceremony and Jordan's first match, knowing that they were all there to support women's football. But our mission is not finished yet. This tournament has been just one step in a 1000-mile journey and we need everyone's help to attract and keep supporters, building on the momentum this tournament has generated.
On behalf of the LOC and the Jordanian people, I would like to extend my thanks to King Abdullah II, the entire royal family and Prince Ali bin Hussein for making it possible to host this illustrious event. It has been a very successful, fruitful tournament for us. I would also like to extend our sincere thanks to FIFA, especially the organisation's staff, whom I have found to be extremely professional. FIFA have provided us with all kinds of support, guidance and training, and we have benefited a lot from that - as has the Jordan Football Association. The Jordanian people have also got behind the tournament and proved, as we hoped they would, to be our 12th player. No-one can deny that this tournament has provided a lot of gains for this country.