Players, sports executives, and politicians were on hand for the unveiling of the countdown clock in Vancouver on June 6 (ATR/Bob Mackin)

(WFI) The one-year countdown to FIFA’s biggest Women’s World Cup was marked with ceremonies in the six Canadian host cities.

Canada 2015 organizers reiterated plans to use only synthetic turf, rather than natural grass, for training and match pitches, despite complaints by high-profile players, such as USA captain Abby Wambach. Wambach was critical of Vancouver’s B.C. Place surface during a qualifying tournament for the London 2012 Olympics.

“There’s no grass,” said Victor Montagliani, organising committee chair and president of the Canadian Soccer Association.

“Training fields and stadiums will be FIFA two-star turf.

“Players will say whatever they want to say, but the truth of the matter is this is not the first event that FIFA’s had that has been played on turf. It’s part of the game. It’s part of professional sports, not just soccer, as long as it meets the standards that are set by the governing body.”

He said pitches at stadiums in Vancouver, Edmonton, Winnipeg, Ottawa, Montreal and Moncton will be inspected later this year or early next year. Any repairs or replacements will be made to ensure they’re top quality.

B.C. Place Stadium, which has a Polytan Ligaturf surface, will host nine matches on seven days, including the July 5 final.

The tournament will open at Commonwealth Stadium in Edmonton. (Getty Images)

Canada 2015 will feature a record 24 teams in 52 matches; at Germany 2011, there were 16 teams playing 32 matches. Canada, the London 2012 Olympics bronze medalist, hosts Germany in a June 18 friendly at B.C. Place. Reigning champion Japan also visits Vancouver in October.

Organisers announced tickets would go on public sale Sept. 10 in packages, excluding tickets for the final. Buyers of the packages will have priority in purchasing tickets for the final. Tickets range from $80 for four games in the highest sections to $395 for the top ticket category for eight matches.

The tournament kicks off June 6, 2015 in Edmonton. The tournament draw will be in December at the National Museum of History in Gatineau, Quebec.

“Every time we’ve hosted something for [FIFA], we’ve broken the records in attendance. We expect to do the same with the Women’s World Cup,” Montagliani said.

Canada hosted the Under-20 men’s World Cup in 2007 and the Under-20 women’s World Cup in 2002.

Meanwhile, Montagliani said the CSA backs FIFA president Sepp Blatter, despite international media reports about alleged match-fixing at the South Africa 2010 World Cup and bribery over the awarding of the 2022 World Cup to Qatar.

“These are all allegations. As a member association, we’re in a position where we support FIFA, who govern the game, and the leader of FIFA. He’s not the only leader of FIFA. There are other leaders there, and we support the executive committee,” Montagliani said.

Asked whether the CSA would endorse, at the FIFA congress in Brazil, an expected bid by Blatter to seek another four-year term as president, he said, “There’s no vote there, so I don’t think we want to jump the gun. There’s an election process, and that will happen next year.”

Written by Bob Mackin

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