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WOMEN'S FOOTBALL

Brazil becomes first South American country to host Women’s World Cup after clinching 2027 event

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President of the Brazilian Football Confederation Ednaldo Rodrigues speaks after Brazil won the bid to host the Women's World Cup at the 74th FIFA Congress at the Queen Sirikit National Convention Center, in Bangkok, Thailand, May 17, 2024. REUTERS/Athit Perawongmetha

Brazil was declared host of the 2027 Women’s World Cup after winning a vote at the annual FIFA Congress on Friday, beating the joint bid of Belgium, Netherlands and Germany to become the first South American country picked to stage the tournament.

Brazil won with 119 votes versus 78 for the joint European entry, boosted by a technical evaluation from world governing body FIFA that gave a high score for its commercial plan and stadiums purpose-built for the 2014 Men’s World Cup.

“We knew we would be celebrating a victory for South American women’s soccer and for women,” said Ednaldo Rodrigues, president of the Brazilian Football Confederation.

“You can be sure, with no vanity, we will accomplish the best World Cup for women.”

The Congress in Bangkok heard a call by FIFA for all members to implement mandatory sanctions to tackle racist abuse.

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There was also a Palestinian proposal to suspend the Israel Football Association (IFA), accusing it of multiple violations of FIFA statutes, including over the war in Gaza and inclusion in Israel’s leagues of teams located in Palestinian territory.

Since an Oct. 7 cross-border raid by Hamas-led gunmen that Israel says killed more than 1,200 people, the offensive in Gaza has left more than 35,000 Palestinians dead, according to Gaza health officials.

‘RIGHT SIDE OF HISTORY’

FIFA President Gianni Infantino said an urgent legal assessment of the Palestinian allegations would be undertaken and the FIFA Council would convene an extraordinary Congress in late July to address the issue.

He said he was extremely shocked by both the Oct. 7 attack and the devastation in Gaza, adding: “I pray for all those people who suffer unimaginably”.

The president of the Palestinian Football Association (PFA), Jibril Rajoub, had accused the IFA of racism and discrimination, in a proposal that alleged complicity in its failure to condemn the operations in Gaza. The IFA rejected that.

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“FIFA cannot afford to remain indifferent to these violations or the ongoing genocide in Palestine,” Rajoub told the Congress. “I ask you to stand on the right side of history… If not now, when?”

Israeli counterpart Shino Moshe Zuares said the proposal had nothing to do with football and the IFA had broken no rules.

“Once again, we are facing a cynical political and hostile attempt by the PFA to harm Israel,” he said.

“I am holding myself back … in the hope things can be better for the game for those who play in Israel, the Palestinian authority, or those who play all over the world.”

TRANSFORMATIVE BID

The vote on the Women’s World Cup had been whittled down to two candidates after the United States and Mexico withdrew to pursue the 2031 tournament instead.

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Brazil had scored 4.0 out of 5 compared to 3.7 for Belgium-Netherlands-Germany in the FIFA evaluation, which had highlighted the European bid’s compactness, solid commercial viability and short distances between venues, but noted smaller capacities of its 13 stadiums.

Brazil soccer chief Rodrigues said the win was the result of conviction, not lobbying.

“We were not campaigning, asking for votes. We were working to give FIFA what it needed,” he said.

The bid’s operational manager Valesca Araujo said the aim was to boost women’s soccer in South America, which was underdeveloped and had huge potential.

“The concept we presented went beyond a sports tournament. We worked for a transformation,” she said.

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“Now we have to celebrate. It’s a great achievement for South America.”

FIFA vowed to be tough on racism with a call for strict measures to be implemented by all member over instances of abuse, including forfeiting of matches, and introducing racism as an offence in players’ disciplinary codes.

It advocates suspending or abandoning games plus the introduction of a global standard gesture for players to inform referees of racist abuse.

“If it is a problem of society and society can’t deal with it, let’s deal with it in football once and for all,” Infantino said.

Infantino also weighed in on what he called a “futile debate” over the volume of matches played globally, arguing FIFA organised about 1% of club games and just 1% to 2% of national team matches.

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He reminded delegates that most FIFA members “would have no football without the resources” FIFA provides.

“I hope these figures will show that we should probably stop this futile debate, it’s really pointless, and focus on what we need to do,” he said.

-Reuters

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Kunle Solaja is the author of landmark books on sports and journalism as well as being a multiple award-winning journalist and editor of long standing. He is easily Nigeria’s foremost soccer diarist and Africa's most capped FIFA World Cup journalist, having attended all FIFA World Cup finals from Italia ’90 to Qatar 2022. He was honoured at the Qatar 2022 World Cup by FIFA and AIPS.

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WOMEN'S FOOTBALL

Dominican Republic 2024:Flamingos land in the Dominican Republic!

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Nigeria’s U17 girls, Flamingos, have secured their ticket to the 8th FIFA U17 Women’s World Cup finals to be staged in the Dominican Republic later this year, after a 2-0 defeat of their Liberian counterparts at the MKO Abiola National Stadium, Abuja on Friday.

Victory took the aggregate tally to 6-1 in favour of Nigeria, with extraordinary poacher Harmony Chidi setting a record of 13 goals in a qualifying series that will be difficult to equal in years to come. She had 11 goals before kick-off, but netted the two goals of the evening to take Nigeria’s total of the series to a whopping 25. Central African Republic fell by a dozen goals while Burkina Faso fell 1-7 on aggregate.

Her first came after only four minutes when she sped past the Liberian defence to toe-poke the ball beyond the flailing arms of goalkeeper Makula Konneh from a cross by Shakirat Moshood.

A goal feast was expected, but this did not happen, as Peace Effiong had a close call in the 17th and Moshood rocked the crossbar a minute after from 20 yards. Moshood also missed from close range with 10 minutes left of the first half.

In the 56th minute, Moshood blasted beyond the goalpost when faced with Konneh, but Harmony Chidi made sure of her brace seven minutes later when she lashed the ball beyond Konneh’s reach as Nigeria seized the ball from a defensive slip-up by the visitors.

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The 8th FIFA U17 Women’s World Cup finals will be staged in the cities of Santiago de los Caballeros and Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic, 16th October – 3rd November.

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WOMEN'S FOOTBALL

‘It shall be showers of goals’, vows Flamingos ahead of Liberia clash

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Head Coach Bankole Olowookere is confident that the Nigeria U17 girls, Flamingos, will not take their feet off the pedal when they take on their Liberian counterparts in a FIFA U17 Women’s World Cup final qualifying match in Abuja on Friday.

“We are battle-ready for the match on Friday. The girls are raring to go because they want to go to the World Cup. They are already dreaming of flying to the Dominican Republic.

“There is so much excitement in camp, and they are self-assured. However, I have warned them that it is never over until it is over. There should be no display of over-confidence on the pitch. We must approach the match like the first leg was a drawn game.”

Nigeria won the first leg 4-1 in Monrovia on Sunday, with 11-goal qualifying series revelation Harmony Chidi, Shakirat Moshood, Peace Effiong and substitute Blessing Ifitezue banging in the goals for the Flamingos. The hosts got their consolation goal off a penalty awarded with five minutes left of the encounter at the Samuel Kanyon Doe Sports Complex in Paynesville.

The Flamingos will take part in the FIFA U17 Women’s World Cup for the seventh time once they cross Friday’s hurdle.

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They featured at the inaugural edition in New Zealand in 2008, and subsequently at Trinidad and Tobago 2010, Azerbaijan 2012, Costa Rica 2014, Jordan 2016 and India 2022, where they won the bronze medals.  

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WOMEN'S FOOTBALL

Flamingos hammer hosts Liberia 4-1, put one leg in World Cup finals

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FIFA World Cup bronze medallists Nigeria routed Liberia 4-1 in a fast-paced FIFA U17 Women’s World Cup final qualifying round, first leg encounter in Monrovia on Sunday.

The Flamingos got off to a pretty quick start at the Samuel Kanyon Doe Sports Complex at the Paynesville, but the Liberian girls, who shocked Senegal on the away-goal rule to reach this final round, warded off the early threats.

Nigeria got the ball into the net after 14 minutes, but Chadian referee Lare Lamngar ruled it off. Not to be deterred or discouraged, the Flamingos poured forward once again, and in the 19th minute, Shakirat Moshood opened the scoring from a sweet solo run.

Peace Effiong, who got a brace in the 6-0 defeat of Burkina Faso at the MKO Abiola National Stadium last month, scored in the 29th minute to put a wedge of respect between the two teams.

Usual suspect Harmony Chidi, scorer of six of the 12 goals that sank the Central African Republic, and who equally netted four in the 7-1 dismissal of Burkina Faso in the last round, headed home her 11th goal of the qualifying series in the 36th minute to put daylight between both teams.

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On resumption, Nigeria continued to dominate, and substitute Blessing Ifitezue made it four with 16 minutes left.

Liberia scored a consolation goal with five minutes left, from the penalty spot, through Yassah Gwaikolo, after substitute Onyedikachi Ekezie was adjudged to have committed a foul in the area.

The Flamingos will return to Nigeria on Tuesday, and immediately commence preparations for the return leg encounter scheduled for Friday at the MKO Abiola National Stadium, Abuja.

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