[COUNTDOWN: Canada 2014] Twelve years after hosting the first FIFA youth championship for women, Canada will welcome 16 teams for the Under-20 Women's World Cup that kicks off on Tuesday. This time, the tournament will be a dress rehearsal for an even bigger event in Canada: the 2015 Women's World Cup, which has been expanded to 24 teams.
Montreal, Olympic Stadium (capacity: 66,308)
Edmonton, Commonwealth Stadium (capacity: 60,081)
Moncton, Moncton Stadium (capacity: 10,000)
Toronto, BMO Field (capacity: 21,859)
This will mark the second time that the host country of the Women's World Cup has hosted the Under-20 Women's World Cup the year before. Germany hosted the Under-20 Women's World Cup in 2010. And the 2018 Under-20 Women's World Cup host will be the country designated host of the 2019 Women's World Cup. (The bidders are France, South Africa and South Korea.)
Matches for the Under-20 Women's World Cup will take place in four cities: Montreal, Edmonton, Moncton and Toronto. All but Toronto will be a venue for next year's Women's World Cup. (Toronto passed on the tournament because it is hosting the 2015 Pan-American Games.)
And not without controversy, Montreal, Edmonton and Moncton -- along with Ottawa, Winnipeg and Vancouver, the other 2015 Women's World Cup venues -- all have artificial turf, marking the first time U-20 Women's World Cup matches will be played on artificial turf. In 2007, the Under-20 World Cup was held in Canada, and three of the six venues for the men's tournament had turf.
Under-20 Women's World Cup:Viewing Schedule
FieldTurf was installed at the Commonwealth Stadium in Edmonton, site of the 2002 Under-19 Women's World Cup final, in 2010. By FIFA mandate, FieldTurf was installed in place of grass at Moncton Stadium in New Brunswick this year at a cost of $1.5 million. After the 1976 Olympics, artificial surface was installed at Olympic Stadium in Montreal. The latest version was installed by Act Global this year.
FIFA's decision to mandate that all Women's World Cup matches next year be played on artificial turf has not sat well with members of the U.S. women's national team. When the USA was in Toronto last year to play Canada, U.S. forward Abby Wambach called the decision to play on artificial turf a gender discrimination issue. "The men's World Cup will never be played on an artificial surface," she said.
On Sunday after the Seattle Reign's win over Portland on turf at Memorial Stadium, Megan Rapinoe, another U.S. Olympic gold-medalist, told SB Nation, "I think it's absolutely absurd that we're playing on turf and it's really a slap in the face to women's football by FIFA and just a show of disrespect."
Next year's tournament is expected to set an attendance record as Canada has targeted a goal of 1.6 million fans for the tournament.
2006: *North Korea
*Played as under-19 tournament.