Ap­peal of women’s soc­cer grow­ing, FIFA chief says in Jor­dan

Kuwait Times - - SPORTS -


The U-17 Women’s World Cup hosted by Jor­dan shows that the sport “is not only con­fined to some parts of the world,” FIFA’s pres­i­dent said af­ter watch­ing North Korea win the ti­tle in a 5-4 penalty shootout against Ja­pan.

The com­pe­ti­tion, which ended late Fri­day, marked the first time an in­ter­na­tional women’s soc­cer tour­na­ment was held in the Mid­dle East. FIFA’s Gianni In­fantino said more needs to be done to de­velop soc­cer in a re­gion where women aren’t typ­i­cally en­cour­aged to take up sports.

“That’s why it was im­por­tant to have this U-17 World Cup here,” the head of world soc­cer’s gov­ern­ing body told re­porters af­ter the ti­tle match.

“The re­sound­ing suc­cess of this World Cup shows that women’s foot­ball is not only con­fined to some parts of the world, but it’s really world­wide,” he said.

“More needs to be done,” he said. “Girls have to come out, have to play, the par­ents have to bring them to play foot­ball, and I think the fu­ture will show that we were right in com­ing here.”

In­fantino said women’s soc­cer has al­ready come a long way, cit­ing what he said were strong skills dis­played in the 16-team com­pe­ti­tion in Jor­dan.

“Women’s foot­ball, even at the youth level, has noth­ing to do any more with what it was only some years ago,” he said. “Now the girls are really ath­letes with top skills.” For Jor­da­nian girls and women, the tour­na­ment of­fered a rare op­por­tu­nity to watch a game in a sta­dium. Typ­i­cally, crowds are over­whelm­ingly male and women tend to stay away be­cause of a rowdy at­mos­phere, said Mo­hammed Abu Samak, event man­ager at the Jor­dan Foot­ball As­so­ci­a­tion.

Over the years, re­peated ef­forts to at­tract more fam­i­lies and fe­male spec­ta­tors have failed, he said, ad­ding that he’s not op­ti­mistic about change. Ibraheem Qu­daisat, 46, at­tended Fri­day’s game with his three young daugh­ters, a first for the fam­ily. Qu­daisat, a physi­cian, said he agreed be­cause he was count­ing on a re­laxed fam­ily-friendly at­mos­phere in the sta­dium.

His old­est daugh­ter, 11-year-old Sarah, had been plead­ing with him to go to a match be­cause for­mer stu­dents from her school play in the Jor­da­nian U-17 na­tional team.

Sarah, who be­came in­ter­ested in taek­wondo af­ter a Jor­da­nian won the coun­try’s first Olympic gold medal in the sport this year, was ex­cited to watch her first soc­cer game. “When I saw the Olympics this year, I got in­spired by see­ing sports,” she said. “And now I am in­spired by foot­ball.” The U-17 Women’s World Cup was first held in 2008 and takes place ev­ery other year. North Korea won in 2008 and be­came cham­pion for the sec­ond time Fri­day.

AM­MAN: FIFA Pres­i­dent Gianni In­fantino, sec­ond left, awards the sil­ver tro­phy to Ja­panese cap­tain Fuka Nagano af­ter the final game against North Korea at the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup at Am­man In­ter­na­tional Sta­dium in Am­man, Jor­dan, Fri­day. — AP

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