Friday, May 4, 2012

2015 Women’s World Cup coming to the NW – Vancouver & Edmonton

FIFA and the Canadian Soccer Association announced its six venues for the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup, unveiling the western cities of Vancouver and Edmonton as part of the tournament. The event will also be held in Moncton (New Brunswick), Montreal (Quebec), Winnipeg (Manitoba) and the capital city of Ottawa (Ontario).

The CSA is boasting the Women’s World Cup – the largest single sports event for women in the world – as the first single sport event in Canada to be held from coast to coast. It will continue the tournament’s presence in the Northwest region of North America, which saw the Women’s World Cup in 1999 and 2003 feature Portland’s Jeld-Wen Field (previously Civic Stadium and PGE Park)  as a host venue. The closest the 1994 Men’s World Cup came to the region was Stanford Stadium in California.

The 1999 WWC featured a game from each group at Civic Stadium with North Korea, Denmark, Germany, Mexico, Japan, Russia, China and Ghana playing in Portland. China would advance all the way to the Final, falling in penalty kicks, 5-4, to the United States in the scoreless contest in Pasadena that enthralled the nation.

The tournament returned in 2003 due to the outbreak of SARS in China. In the meantime, the venue had become more soccer friendly with the launch of the USL First Division Portland Timbers, now members of Major League Soccer.

The 2003 WWC format saw the groups play their schedules, for the most part, in the same venues with PGE Park hosting Group D and featuring games with Ghana, Australia, China and Russia. The venue also played host to a pair of Quarterfinals and both Semifinal matches. Germany, Russia, China and Canada squared off in the Portland Quarterfinals with Germany and Canada advancing to the Semifinals to face the United States and Sweden, respectively. Both North American sides would fall, setting up a Third Place showdown between the US and Canada, which the Americans would win, 3-1, in Los Angeles. Germany would go on to win the title in overtime.

The host cities were unveiled at a media conference held on Parliament Hill in Ottawa with several dignitaries in attendance, including FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter and CSA President Dr. Dominique Maestracci.

As hosts of the Women’s World Cup, Canada will also play host to the FIFA U20 Women’s World Cup the year prior. Host cities for that even will be announced by the end of the year.

Vancouver has long been the home of the Canadian National Team program and has seen the sport grow exponentially through the Vancouver Whitecaps, who recently joined Major League Soccer, over the last 20 years in both men’s and women’s soccer. The Whitecaps Women have been an attendance leader since the club’s launch in 2001.

Vancouver’s matches will be held at BC Place, home of the Whitecaps MLS team, with the matches in Edmonton being held at Frank Clair Stadium, the home of the North American Soccer League (second division) FC Edmonton.

Canada has previously hosted the 2002 FIFA U19 Women’s World Championship, the 2007 FIFA U20 World Cup and the 1987 FIFA U16 World Championship, which was held in eastern Canada.

The U19 Women’s World Championship was held entirely in western Canada with matches at Edmonton’s Commonwealth Stadium, Vancouver’s Swangard Stadium (then home to the Whitecaps men’s and women’s team) and Victoria’s Centennial Stadium. The United States defeated Canada, 1-0 in overtime, in the Final at Commonwealth.

The 2007 U20 World Cup was held in the same three cities -using Royal Athletic Park in Victoria instead – along with the addition of Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal. The men’s title was captured by Argentina with a 2-1 victory over the Czech Republic in the Final at Toronto’s National Soccer Stadium (now BMO Field), the home of MLS club Toronto FC, which began play the same year.