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Organising Committee for the FIFA U-20 and U-17 Women’s World Cups

At the committee meeting in Zurich on 27 October, dealing with next year’s FIFA U-17 and U-20 Women’s World Cups, FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter welcomed a historic cooperation agreement. For the first time in FIFA’s history and in line with the new legacy approach for youth competitions, the two local organising committees (LOCs) of New Zealand and Chile sealed a collaboration agreement reaching far beyond support and synergies for the two events. The main objective is to promote a better understanding of women’s football and to engage in joint initiatives in the pursuit of an enduring legacy for the host countries.
“I am very proud to be among those witnessing this great initiative, which I am convinced will act as a catalyst for women’s football to become a standard-bearer in those two countries where it has not yet realised its full potential. This is a great example of solidarity in football,” said the FIFA President, who was pleased to point out that, with the exception of FIFA executive members Chuck Blazer, the chairman, and Franz Beckenbauer, the new deputy chairman, the committee was comprised only of women: “I am very happy that we now have an all-female committee after so many years. And with Franz Beckenbauer, we could not have found a better ambassador for women’s football,” he added. Furthermore, both Karen Espelund (Norway) and Suopu Po (American Samoa) were welcomed to the committee by the FIFA President.
With less than a year to go until kick-off, the two LOC and association presidents, Graham Seatter (New Zealand) and Harold Mayne-Nicholls (Chile), gave detailed reports on the current status of preparations including stadium renovation and construction work. The presentations included dedicated programmes to create awareness in the host countries, to encourage young girls to play and to create professional structures to improve their national teams’ playing standards. One major element is the organisation of at least two four-nation tournaments in both countries in early 2008.
The committee declared itself delighted with the two hosts’ professional and enthusiastic efforts, and in particular noted that Chilean President Michelle Bachelet and New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark had committed themselves to acting as honorary LOC president for their respective countries to emphasise their dedication to the long-term development of women’s football as a means of bringing about long-term social changes. On the matter of player eligibility for both competitions, the committee gave its backing to a proposal that girls would be entitled to take part in as many U-17 and U-20 competitions as possible as long as they were still within the age limit. Other matters such as match schedules, qualifiers, logistics, marketing and television were also discussed. The U-17 Women’s World Cup is scheduled to take place from 30 October to 16 November 2008 whereas the U-20 Women’s World Cup will be held between 20 November and 7 December 2008.
Both tournaments will be played in four venues: Auckland, Christchurch, Hamilton and Wellington in New Zealand and Chilian, Coquimbo, Santiago de Chile and Temuco in Chile.