Arecordaudienceof 53,058peopleattendedthe openingmatchofthe2015FIFAWomen’sWorldCupattheCommonwealthStadiuminEdmontonasthetournament hostsCanadatookonChina.
The expanded edition of the FIFA Women’s World Cup features 24 teams for the first time and could reach up to a billion TV viewers around the world. The encounter on 6 June was the best-ever attended match in Canadian football history.
Ahead of the tournament kick-off Peter Montopoli, Chief Executive Officer of the National Organising Committee and Canada Soccer General Secretary, said: “When we put in our initial bid in 2011, we were ready to welcome the world; that time has now come.
“On the ticketing side, the opening match is trending to be the best-attended senior international soccer match in Canadian history, with over 52,000 people expected. We’re also looking at this as the best-attended national-team match of any sport in our country, so obviously the opening day is a big day for Canadian soccer and Canadian sport.
“The Final sold out within 72 hours of tickets going on sale, and as far as the group stage is concerned, we will have at least one sell-out at each venue. 33 per cent of the group-stage matches will be sold out.”
More than 400m viewers followed the Women’s World Cup in Germany four years ago, and FIFA hope that increased interest from broadcasters and a captive North American audience will boost ratings in order to help the sport grow.
More than 920,000 tickets have already been sold for the tournament. The Canadian Soccer Association is hoping to sell a total of 1.5 million tickets during the month-long tournament, which would be a world record for a FIFA women’s tournament or any other women’s sports tournament.
The last World Cup in Germany in 2011 sold just over 800,000 tickets.
At the opening press conference held on 4 June Lydia Nsekera, Chairwoman of the Committee for Women’s Football and the FIFA Women’s World Cup, and member of the FIFA Executive Committee, stressed: “Every Women’s World Cup is an opportunity to show to as many people as possible how much our game has improved. And now here we are.
“It is now time for the game to take centre-stage and to enjoy this incredible festival of football that is the Women’s World Cup. The development of women’s football is closely linked to this elite tournament, and I am convinced that Canada 2015 will encourage more women and girls to join us out on the pitch, but also off it, as referees, coaches, officials and even future presidents of national associations.”