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Canada in Line for 2011


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Canada in line for 2011

FIFA's Sepp Blatter would like more North American exposure for soccer

By TERRY JONES -- Edmonton Sun

LONG BEACH, Calif. -- Sepp still likes us.

Sepp Blatter, the all-powerful boss of FIFA, publicly encouraged Canada to go for the 2011 Women's World Cup here yesterday.

"I think it wouldn't be too much to have three of four World Cups in North America," said Blatter.

"The situation with USA 2003 can't be made a negative for Canada or CONCACAF. Therefore a bid from Canada is absolutely possible for 2011 from FIFA's point of view."

Blatter raved about the visibility women's soccer has received in Canada during the last 14 months and the calibre of the Canadian team that plays the defending world champion Americans for the bronze medal Saturday.

"It was so fantastic a job Canada did organizing the FIFA U-19 Women's World Championships last year, the potential of putting on a good event and the potential of Canada reaching the level of interest is incentive for FIFA to look very positively on a 2011 bid from Canada," he told a media gathering here yesterday.

"Canada can do it. What I saw in Edmonton last year was tremendous."


Canadian Soccer Association officials here did everything but jump up in the air and cheer when Blatter blessed the bid, as he indeed did for Canada bidding for 2007 last year in Edmonton.

But SARS changed all that, forcing FIFA to move 2003 from China to the U.S., which played host to the 1999 World Cup, leaving Canada out in the cold.

"He just gave us the green light,'' said CSA CEO Kevan Pipe after the conference concluded.

"We were concerned, very concerned, that FIFA wouldn't want to come to North America three times in four World Cups. But he just opened the door and gave us a very green light.

"We have the green light in our ever-growing partnership with FIFA to bid for the 2007 U-20 men's world championships and now for the 2011 Women's World Cup.

"After Sepp Blatter publicly gave us the green light like that, we'd be crazy not to bid for it.''

Blatter's word is generally seen as law in the sport.

Fourteen months ago he all but assured Canada the 2007 event on the spot when he experienced the success first-hand as Edmonton drew 162,207 for six dates including selling out Commonwealth Stadium two days prior to the golden-goal final between Canada and the U.S. and 47,784 who turned the turnstiles.

"Canada 2007? They will do it,'' said Blatter, blessing the original bid. "The guarantee of enthusiasm of the public is there. With what has happened here, Canada has convinced me. What they've realized here is extraordinary in the 27 years I've witnessed FIFA events. The whole event has been ballistic.''

While the CSA tried and failed to convince FIFA to put the Canadian group from this World Cup in Edmonton, there is no doubt it would have outdrawn every game played in this World Cup, which was thrown together in four months.

USA 2003 has been held in smaller venues than four years ago when they filled NFL Stadiums and put 90,000 people in the Rose Bowl, and has drawn but 325,000 for the entire tournament.


Canada's success on the field and what's been happening with TV back home have both caught Blatter's attention again.

He went out of his way to mention that the TV situation in Canada has been very positive.

Sportsnet brought in 703,000 viewers for the Sweden game, which started at 10:30 p.m. EDT. That's the second-highest number ever on Sportsnet, the highest being 918,000 for last year's U-19 final. The next highest number, 677,000, was from a Stanley Cup playoff game two years ago. The average NHL regular-season game on Sportsnet doesn't come close to those numbers.

He made a point to mention that there's no Asia in this final four at this World Cup because of Canada.

"Canada took out Japan and took out China,'' he said.

"This game between Canada and the U.S. will be a very interesting test, to see who will have authority in North America,'' said Blatter, his eyes playfully picking out American journalists.

These Canadian girls are impressing people. And there's no-one better to impress than Joseph S. Blatter.

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