"You are sending me to Canada! But a Polar Bear might eat me!"
Sepp Blatter is in Canada! To be more precise he was in Ottawa earlier today hanging out with the likes of Prime Minister Stephen Harper, and Canadian goal keeper Karina Leblanc. He was in the country to help with the announcement of the venues for when Canada hosts the Women's World Cup in 2015. The country will also play host to the U-20 Women's World Cup a year prior in 2014.
All those hosting duties are going to come with a big price tag for the government and the Canadian Soccer Association. The government has already put forward $15 million to help the CSA with staging the two events. It is not the first time that Canada has hosted major international soccer event though. The nation most recently played host to the Men's U-20 World Cup back in 2007 and the Women's U-20 event in 2002. Both events went over well but should pale in comparison to the size and success of hosting the full grown Women's World Cup. The only bigger sporting event Canada will likely ever host is the Olympics (maybe a Men's World Cup but that is likely not in our life times).
The six cities announced today did not include Toronto. Even though BMO is one of the best venues in the country and would have been an ideal place for hosting some of the games, it was not a part of the country's bid. Toronto will instead play host to the Pan-Am games the same summer. For soccer fans in Toronto that might seem like a terrible trade off but add in the fact that BMO is getting to host all of the men's matches in the current World Cup Qualifying cycle, and it seems about right that the women's games get spread around the country. Toronto was asked to be a part of the bid as it would have helped ensure landing the event as well as providing another high class venue, but Tourism Toronto had no interest in being involved in two events in the same summer. It seems their focus was more on trying to land a summer Olympics bid in the future rather than being involved in a world class soccer event.
The cities that will get matches are Vancouver, Edmonton, Winnipeg, Ottawa, Montreal, and Moncton. So it will really be a coast to coast tournament with BC Place and Stade Saputo likely to serve as the headline venues. This will be the first time ever that Canada has hosted a single sporting event that spread coast to coast. Being spread across such a large land mass and a whole lot of time zones is sure to present logistical issues for teams and the tournament organizers but the good news is that no matter where you live, there will be a game somewhere near you.
The biggest question now is what will the CSA do about some of these venues and the fact that they use field-turf. In my opinion using field turf for such an event is unacceptable and will not look good on Canada. Hopefully they look after that in the coming years so that when the Women's soccer world comes to Canada we put on the show that they deserve.