The moment has almost arrived. Ever since the curtain fell on the previous tournament in Canada in 2015, the women’s football community has looked forward to one thing and one thing only: the kick-off of the FIFA Women’s World Cup – France 2019.
The good news for all concerned is that their patience will soon be rewarded. In fact, there are only 100 days left before France and South Korea lock horns at the Parc des Princes in Paris in the opening match of the competition.
After four years of hard work behind the scenes by FIFA and the Local Organising Committee (LOC), and on the pitch by the 24 qualified teams, the much-anticipated tournament is now just around the corner. Each of the nine host cities has been putting the finishing touches to its preparations for welcoming the world in a few weeks’ time, and to mark the 100-day milestone, they all held events on Wednesday during which they unveiled their official tournament posters.
The least that can be said is that the nine participating towns did not do things by halves, projecting huge images of goalmouths onto the facades of emblematic buildings in each city. And who was between the sticks? Ettie, the Official Mascot of France 2019!
Always ready to take on a new challenge, the daughter of Footix, the mascot of France 1998, donned a pair of gloves for a giant virtual penalty shoot-out in which she faced spot kicks from local residents, media representatives, celebrities and politicians.
Despite Ettie’s popularity among the French public, the numerous spectators present opted to cheer on the penalty takers. And with good reason, because the objective was to reach 100 goals, symbolising the number of days that remain before the tournament’s opening match, upon which the cities’ France 2019 posters were then projected onto each building.
From Grenoble to Valenciennes, and not forgetting Le Havre, Lyon, Montpellier, Nice, Paris, Reims and Rennes, poor Ettie conceded no fewer than 900 goals to spot-kick takers. At the conclusion of the shoot-out, she nevertheless flashed a winning smile and celebrated the unveiling of each poster amid a party-like atmosphere.
“We’d really love to relive France 1998, UEFA EURO 2016 and what we experienced recently at the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup,” explained Brigitte Henriques, Vice-President of both the French Football Federation and the LOC, who was in Paris on Wednesday. “We’re counting on you, the public. We’ve already sold 500,000 tickets. On 7 March, when individual tickets go on sale, set your smartphone alarms! It’s not just a Women’s World Cup, it’s a World Cup.”