- The FIFA Women's World Cup France 2019™ match schedule has been announced
- The opening match takes place in Paris and the final will be held in Lyon
- The final draw will be held on 8 December at the Seine Musicale, near Paris
When it comes to welcoming visitors from around the globe, nobody can match France. Studies show that France attracts more tourists than any other country, and the holiday hotspot will soon extend its embrace to fans of women's football, with the nation set to host the FIFA U-20 Women's World Cup 2018 and FIFA Women's World Cup France 2019™.
The 24-team senior event may still seem a long way off, but preparations for the tournament are well underway. The countdown to France 2019 began in earnest with the launch of the Official Emblem and Slogan last September, and this week marked another important step on the road to the finals.
The tournament took even more tangible shape on Thursday, with the announcement of the match schedule and a date for the final draw, which were both revealed after a FIFA delegation completed its tour of the host cities.
- The opening match will be held in Paris on 7 June 2019
- The semi-finals (2 and 3 July 2019) and final (7 July 2019) will take place in Lyon
- Host cities: Grenoble, Le Havre, Lyon, Montpellier, Nice, Paris, Reims, Rennes, and Valenciennes
Despite a rich history of organising big football events in many cases, the cities and stadiums set to host the 2019 Women's World Cup underwent a rigorous inspection from the FIFA delegation. The quality of the infrastructure is high, as demonstrated each week in French championship games and other competitions, but certain modifications still need to be made in order to hold such an important tournament and meet FIFA's criteria.
FIFA's representatives were therefore eager to ensure that preparations remain on schedule and the host venues will be ready for the showpiece event in women's football. That considerable task involves being able to welcome everyone involved, from the players to the organisers, as well as the supporters, match officials, media personnel, VIPs, and everybody else connected to the tournament in one capacity or another.
"We've worked very closely in collaboration with the Local Organising Committee to find the right balance between the various different elements", explained FIFA's Head of Women's Football, Sarai Bareman, at Friday’s press conference in Nice, the final stop on the inspection tour. Shedding more light on the match schedule, she added: "The Women's World Cup is the biggest global event in women's sport, and it took a lot of work to find the best possible balance, which took into account the well-being of fans and players, the travel distances for the teams, and also broadcasting provisions for television viewers."
See you in December!
Also announced in a week of highly anticipated developments, a date and location for the Final Draw have now been set. All eyes will be on the Seine Musicale arts centre in Boulogne-Billancourt, near Paris, on 8 December, when the tournament will truly come into focus. As things stand, France alone are guaranteed a spot as hosts, with the 23 remaining berths to be decided by qualifying tournaments within each confederation.
Every team eyeing a place will now be dreaming of taking part in the draw, where the 24 competing sides will discover the journey that awaits them in France – and each of the venues will learn which fixtures they are scheduled to host.
The draw will also allow supporters to plan their trips, no doubt ensuring that France will once again top the table, as the world's prime tourist destination in 2019. Those who make the visit will doubtless be hoping to extend their stays until 7 July, when the final will reveal the successors to 2015 champions USA.