Monday, October 29, 2007

Whitecaps Waterfront Stadium Central to Canada's 2011 Women's World Cup Bid

Canada will put it's best foot forward on Tuesday as FIFA will decide which country will earn the right to host the 2011 Women's World Cup. The Canadian delegation, led by former Whitecaps President John Rocha, will make it's presentation to FIFA at 11:30 am Zurich time (3:30 AM Pacific), and the decision will be announced at 3:00 PM Zurich time (7:00 AM Pacific). Both the presentation and decision can be seen live at FIFA.COM .

On the surface, it might seem like Canada is in for a tough battle against its only rival, Germany. And, no doubt, it's true. The German Women are still celebrating their recent World Cup triumph in China, and their bid features the unrivalled stadium infrastructure that is the legacy of their incredibly successful 2006 Mens World Cup Finals. Because they've invested in modern soccer stadiums, Germany is in a position to put forward strong bids for any major soccer competition in the world.

But Canada will have much to offer in Zurich tomorrow as well. And FIFA has taken notice.

Our country showed at this past summer's FIFA U-20 World Cup that there's been a long, pent up demand for world class soccer. Canadians set an all-time attendance record for the tournament. It's a demand that's been artificially held back over the years by a lack of professional clubs beyond Vancouver, Toronto & Montreal, as well as modern facilities for them to play in. We're now seeing what new stadiums in Toronto and Montreal can do for the professional game. In Vancouver, we could have the best stadium of them all.

Our women's national program is also among the best developed in the world, and there's plenty of opportunity for women of all ages to play the game at every level. The Whitecaps have also built one of the top women's clubs in North America, winning the W-League title twice in the past four seasons, and sending several of their players to the national team. FIFA also remembers our country's outstanding response to the inaugural Womens U-19 World Cup in 2002. The strength of women's soccer in Canada could help tip the balance in our favour tomorrow in Zurich.

The Whitecaps Waterfront Stadium will play a central role in Canada's presentation tomorrow, with suggestions that Vancouver could play host to the major games of the tournament such as the opening game, the semi-final, or even the final itself. Of course, it would have helped strengthen the bid if Vancouver City Council had made a stronger commitment to allowing the stadium to move forward.

Regardless of what happens tomorrow, Vancouver still needs the stadium. But wouldn't it be great if we could open it by doing what Vancouver does best; by inviting the world?

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