Blatter:What we’ve lacked in Africa up to now is support from the national associations.
On the day before the final of the FIFA Women's World Cup Germany 2011™ between USA and Japan, FIFA and the Local Organising Committee (LOC) staged a news conference summarising key topics arising from the tournament.
The news conference was addressed by FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter, German FA (DFB) President Dr Theo Zwanziger, LOC President Steffi Jones, FIFA Head of Women’s Competitions Tatjana Haenni, FIFA Executive Committee member Michel D’Hooghe, FIFA Chief Medical Officer and chairman of the FIFA Medical Assessment and Research Centre (F-MARC) Prof Jiri Dvorak, and FIFA Executive Committee member and chairman of the FIFA Committee for Women's Football Worawi Makudi.
FIFA President Joseph S. BlatterWe're one day away from the end of the FIFA Women's World Cup 2011 in Germany, and I'm a very satisfied President. I'd like to express my thanks for the exceptionally good organisation of this tournament. My thanks are not only to Steffi Jones and the Organising Committee, the German FA and DFB president Dr Theo Zwanziger, and the FIFA official in charge of organisation Worawi Makudi, but also to the government agencies involved. It's not possible to stage a World Cup without the assistance and guarantees given by the government. I'd also like to thank the city authorities for making their stadiums available to us. The stadiums were magnificent, all of them absolutely meeting the required international standards.
On the atmosphere at the stadiums The passion remained, even after Germany suddenly stumbled in the quarter-finals. That may have caused a moment of reflection and a few rueful thoughts in Germany, but as you've all seen, the crowds kept on coming. And from an international point of view, especially on TV, viewers have suddenly seen new teams. Women's football has become more global. The final will now be played to an audience on both sides of the world, from the East where the sun rises, all the way over to the West.
On the general standard of play The football was exciting and very good, although you should never compare it to the men's version, even though it is the same basic game, with 11 players against 11, one ball and one referee. All 16 teams showed there aren't any weak teams any more, which is why we'll start with 24 teams at the next FIFA Women's World Cup in Canada. Now is the right time to go from 16 to 24 teams, and that'll open new markets for women's football.
On the prize money The total prize money in 2007 was US $6.4 million. Prior to the tournament the prize money was set at USD $7.6 million. However, with the support and approval of the FIFA Executive Committee members here, we have raised that figure to USD $10 million. We will decide later how we will allocate it.
On Japan’s success I've been at FIFA for more than 36 years, so nothing can shock me any more. You occasionally get miracles, but miracles are very rare. In my opinion, it's still a surprise that Japan made it through to the final, but when you review the development of the women's game in Japan over the last few years, and how they’ve performed at recent FIFA tournaments, it's obvious they’ve taken a significant step forward. The fact they're through to the final conclusively proves their victory against overwhelming favourites Germany had nothing to do with luck. They are genuinely rising up the rankings.
On women's football in Africa Women’s football in Africa is still in a state of consolidation, and is not yet moving into a competitive phase. What we’ve lacked in Africa up to now is support from the national associations. Only a very few associations have a women’s section or a women’s league. They don’t yet have club competitions for women. The situation will only improve once women are playing in clubs. They need to be rooted in the clubs, because clubs form the foundation of football.