By RON FANFAIR
The Canadian government has committed up to $15 million to the International Soccer Federation (FIFA) Women’s 2014 Under-20 and 2015 World Cup if Canada is successful in its bid to host both tournaments.
Interested countries have until mid-February to submit bid books. The country with the winning bid earns the right to stage the Under-20 Women’s World Cup in 2014.
Minister of State responsible for Sport Gary Lunn said the federal government is delighted to support Canada’s bid.
“Soccer participation in communities across Canada has grown steadily from year to year while interest and pride in our national teams is at an all-time high,” said Lunn. “We look forward to working with the Canadian Soccer Association to support a successful bid process.”
CSA president Dr. Dominic Maestracci promised his association will present a strong bid.
“Hosting the FIFA Women’s World Cup in 2015 will not only help strengthen women’s soccer in Canada, but also help elevate the game at the global level,” he added.
Peter Montopoli, the CSA general secretary, thanked the federal government for throwing its weight behind the bid.
“On the heels of hosting a record-breaking FIFA tournament in 2007, Canada wants to invite the world back for the premier women’s soccer event in 2015,” he said. “We would like to recognize the key role of the Government of Canada in helping us move closer to us reaching this goal.”
Canada hosted the first ever Women’s Under-20 World Cup in 2002 and the men’s Under-20 competition three years ago.
The CSA is working closely with the federal, provincial and municipal governments to ensure that Canada presents a successful bid.
The national women’s senior team is also playing its part on the field, ending the year on a winning note with victory in a four-nation international series in Brazil. Canada and the host country played to a 2-2 draw, but Canada lifted the trophy with a superior goal differential.
“We won this tournament with all our players doing their part,” said coach Carolina Morace. “All of our players can grow from this experience.”
In winning the tournament, Canada tied its national record of 10 straight matches without a loss, equalling the mark set seven years ago.
National Player of the Year Christine Sinclair scored the equaliser seven minutes before the end of regulation time. It was the third straight time this season that Canada’s most capped female player had netted the decisive goal.
She scored the winner for the defunct FC Pride in the Women’s Professional Soccer (WPS) championship match in September, the Confederation of North, Central American & Caribbean Associations of Soccer (CONCACAF) World Cup qualifier final last month and the Brazilian four-team tournament that also included the Netherlands and Mexico.
“I thought I would hit it (the ball) as hard as I could and it went in,” said Sinclair, the six-time national Player of the Year award winner. “It just came back to me perfectly. The ball was set up nicely for a one-time shot.”
The national side outscored its opponents 28-3 in the last 10 games with Sinclair scoring 11 goals in nine matches.
Canada finished the year with 13 wins, three draws and just two loses.