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AFP
December 8, 2018

Countdown to 2019 Women’s World Cup begins

Sports

AFP
December 8, 2018

PARIS: With just six months to go until the tournament’s opening game in Paris, anticipation is growing ahead of the 2019 women’s World Cup as the French capital prepares to host the draw for the finals on Saturday.

The spotlight on the women’s game continues to grow, and next year’s competition in France — which runs from June 7 to July 7 — will be the most lucrative yet. There remains a chasm, though, compared to the men’s World Cup that will take some years yet to close, in financial terms and in terms of the media spotlight. However, there are some advantages to that — twelve months ago, President Vladimir Putin took the stage in the Kremlin at a politicised draw for the World Cup in Russia, but this time at least the football can be the sole focus. The hosts will be among the top seeds for the 24-team tournament, in which the United States will defend their crown while Olympic champions Germany will be strong contenders too.

Competition is likely to be intense, however — 2011 winners Japan will fancy their chances, as will Phil Neville’s England, semi-finalists at the last World Cup and at Euro 2017. “We’ve got the experience now but we want to make sure we go all the way,” England star Fran Kirby told The Guardian recently. Getting beyond the group stage may not be too hard for them, even if the overall standard of women’s football is improving all the time.

Beyond the leading names, this is also a big occasion for Scotland, whose women have qualified for their first World Cup in the same country where their men last went to a major tournament, back in 1998.

The ceremony at La Seine Musicale in Boulogne-Billancourt, just outside Paris, takes place on a weekend when the French capital is preoccupied with the threat of more violent “yellow vest” protests over rising living costs in the country.

2019 women’s World Cup qualified teams

Africa

Cameroon, Nigeria, South Africa

Asia

Australia, China, Japan, South Korea, Thailand

Europe

England, France (hosts), Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Scotland, Spain, Sweden

North, Central America and Caribbean

Canada, Jamaica, USA

Oceania

New Zealand

South America

Argentina, Brazil, Chile.

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