At the beginning of February, with four months to go until the start of the FIFA Women’s World Cup France 2019™ (7 June-7 July), Paris played host to “Think Football”, a symposium organised by News Tank. At the event, FIFA Secretary General Fatma Samoura and 2019 Local Organising Committee President Erwan Le Prevost expressed their collective desire to see the global tournament succeed both on and off the pitch.
On 7 February, four months to the day before the kick-off of the Women’s World Cup in Paris, Fatma Samoura travelled to the French capital to attend the third edition of “Think Football”, a News Tank-run conference which turned the spotlight on the upcoming tournament and the place of women in sport and society.
Opening the event, Samoura laid out the objectives of the eighth Women’s World Cup, which, if attained, will ensure that it is remembered as the greatest yet. Reminding the attendees that Canada 2015 was watched by 750 million television viewers around the planet, she set a lofty target of one billion for France 2019.
The primary focus, however, will be on ensuring that the stadiums are filled, so that the players from the 24 competing teams can be cheered on by enthusiastic crowds. “We’ve taken a bold gamble, and I know that France is ready to set new records,” declared Samoura. “The nine Women’s World Cup host cities boast excellent infrastructure to welcome everyone who wishes to come and support the teams, who are sure to provide us with some high-quality matches.”
There is no denying that the competition venues will play a fundamental role. LOC President Erwan Le Prevost pointed out that working together with local stakeholders – host cities, resident clubs, leagues and districts – is crucial to the success of the event, as was the case for the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup, held in Brittany between 5 and 24 August 2018.
“There was no question of doing things how they were done at some previous events, that is, ‘taking over’ the cities and stadiums. The model used in Brittany was effective and we’ll aim to replicate that in 2019,” he said.
Each of the nine cities involved will therefore be able to add their own touch to the way the tournament is organised. Consequently, while Rennes and Valenciennes will both host seven matches, fans who attend matches in those towns will be guaranteed to enjoy two different experiences.
For the organisers of France 2019, the way in which the fans – and all the other participants – experience the tournament will also be a gauge of success. “We’re organising 52 matches in nine cities. Everyone connected to the Local Organising Committee is so excited by this adventure,” said Le Prevost.
“Our approach is that we must be capable of laying on nine different World Cups – one per venue. We have to satisfy all of the different people taking part: players, referees, volunteers, host cities, media outlets, sponsors, etc. We’re organising an event that should promote France and football. It’s our responsibility to do it as well as all those who came before us and therefore maintain this tradition of French excellence. It must be organised perfectly.”
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