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Artificial turf no issue for Women's World Cup, FIFA says

English.news.cn   2013-08-18 09:22:38            

VANCOUVER, Aug. 17 (Xinhua) -- FIFA officials are confident the 2015 Women's World Cup in Canada will go off without a hitch, despite the tournament being played on artificial turf for the first time.

Speaking in Vancouver Saturday at the conclusion of a week-long tour of Canada where a delegation of FIFA officials inspected four of the six stadiums being used for the seventh women's World Cup - two of the venues are still under construction - director of competitions Mustapha Fahmy called the conditions "satisfactory".

"(Men's) World Cup qualifiers are played on artificial turf, so I think it's not a real problem," said the Egyptian, the former Confederation of African Football general secretary.

He noted a condition for Canada hosting the tournament was for the venues to have FIFA 2 Star-approved turf.

Montreal, Moncton, Ottawa, Winnipeg, Edmonton and Vancouver will act as host cities for the 52-game tournament starting June 6, 2015. Vancouver's British Columbia Place will host the final July 5.

"FIFA didn't move (away from natural grass), but as you know there are some cultural aspect in each host country and FIFA has to comply and understand the facilities in each host country," Fahmy said.

"We have discussed between the FIFA executive committee and the FIFA medical committee, and they are of the opinion that there is no real danger or any problem for that (artificial turf) on the condition that all the training fields and all fields for the competition will be of the same standard."

With the Canadian Soccer Association targeting a record 1.6 million spectators for the competition, the fans will be treated to the largest Women's World Cup yet with 24 teams participating, up from 16 in 2011 when Japan shocked the Americans in the final in Germany.

Asian teams will also have a greater presence in Canada with five berths in the tournament, up from three previously.

The expansion should undoubtedly help the chances for China, currently No. 16 in the FIFA world rankings, qualify for the tournament after failing to get to Germany.

Next May, China will be one of the eight teams competing in the AFC Women's Asian Cup in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, with the top-five finishers qualifying for Canada.

Tatjana Haenni, FIFA's deputy director of competitions for women's football, called the expansion of the tournament to 24 teams "a massive step" for the women's game, but dismissed criticisms the new additions would water down the talent pool.

Instead, she said with more spots available it would fuel greater investment by football associations into their national teams and youth development.

"Those teams who will qualify (for Canada) will be really good teams and you will have of course the top teams and maybe we will see some surprises, so I think that's good for women's football," Haenni said.

She called the expanded presence of Asian teams in the tournament good for the growth of the Women's World Cup.

"It's more than deserved. If you look at the recent results, Japan winning the FIFA Women's World Cup 2011 and some other results at the youth level, they have always been very strong on the FIFA Under-17 women's competition," said the former Swiss international. "I think it's just the result of the development taking place in Asia with so many good teams developing and performing."

Editor: Yang Lina
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