Steffi Jones and Junji Ogura exchange shirts (Getty)

(WFI) FIFA’s Women’s World Cup leaders have completed their international promotional mission, a ‘Welcome Tour’ of the 15 countries who will compete in the tournament that kicks off later this month.

Six months after the inaugural event in Sydney, organising committee president Steffi Jones and her FIFA colleagues rounded out their tour with a visit to Tokyo today.

Jones and FIFA’s head of women’s competitions Tatjana Haenni were among the officials who met Japanese Football Association chiefs at the rheadquarters, including president Junji Ogura.

“Visiting Japan was a matter close to our hearts,” Jones told a press conference, a reference to the March 11 earthquake and tsunami that killed thousands and devastated part of the country.

“We wanted to make a concrete gesture expressing our unconditional support for the Japanese footballing family, just three months after the appalling catastrophe in Fukushima.”

Ogura said: “This magnificent gesture will not be quickly forgotten.”

Japan women’s national team and coach Norio Sasaki said there was a huge sense of anticipation among the country’s players ahead of the tournament kick-off.

“It will not only be a perfectly organised World Cup, it will be a rousing event with a fantastic atmosphere, which will raise the standing of the women’s game,” Sasaki said.

Women’s World Cup president Jones and the FIFA delegation have covered more than 100,000km on their global promotional tour.

“As well as thanking all the associations involved, we are grateful to FIFA and the German Foreign Office for their support with this project,” Jones said. “The enthusiasm generated by the tour among people from widely differing cultures has greatly exceeded our own expectations.”

The Women’s World Cup runs from June 26 to July 17.


Business as usual for Blazer and CONCACAF

CONCACAF general secretary Chuck Blazer says “everything is normal” within the confederation, insisting that there is no major leadership crisis.

“I recognise that there was great interest certainly in what our activities have been and what has been going on both in CONCACAF and with the Gold Cup,” Blazer told MLS.com earlier this week.

Jack Warner, the former president of CONCACAF, was

Chuck Blazer believes FIFA will emerge stronger from the corrutpion scandal (Getty)

suspended last week after Blazer reported allegations of bribery involving Warner and former FIFA presidential candidate Mohamed Bin Hammam. Both are being investigated with a verdict due next month.

But Blazer insisted that the media attention be more focused now on the confederation’s flagship competition.

“I came to assure you that everything is normal, that things are business as usual and that the Cup you see is very much the Cup that you have seen before and the same one that you will see in the future.”

“It’s regrettable at this point, from a political point of view, that there is some confusion that will be resolved,” Blazer said before adding his belief that FIFA will rise above the allegations made.

“I know that FIFA and ourselves will ultimately have this situation resolved and resolved for the better. Right now all I can tell you is that everything is in good hands.

“[FIFA] can have confidence in the future because this is a major effort to do things in the right way. And if we accomplish that at the end of this entire process, then we will have done a lot of good for the right reasons.”

There was a bizarre situation last week in the midst of all the allegations being thrown around, when Blazer was supposedly fired from his position as general secretary by interim president Lisle Austin.

But Austin ultimately did not have the authority to relieve Blazer of his position, and was himself axed. A new acting president has been appointed in Alredo Hawit.

“Everything that you see now is being done at the direction of the executive committee,” Blazer said. “I am in place as the general secretary and you will have a wonderful Gold Cup and I want everyone to know that you will have my full cooperation during this entire tournament.”


Carlsberg director confirmed for Leaders in Sponsorship

Keld Strudahl, marketing director of Carlsberg, is the first of many big-name speakers to be announced for the third Leaders in Sponsorship, taking place on Oct. 5 at Chelsea’s Stamford Bridge ground.

Speaking in the panel session “Sponsorship versus marketing: what works when and why? Keld will look at how corporate brands, which are now rigorously measured by ROI, choose what to spend on which sports properties, and how the mix of activity drives the marketing strategy.

Carlsberg is one of the biggest football sponsors in the world. It has partnerships with numerous national teams, sponsors UEFA’s Euro 2012 and also iconic clubs including Liverpool.

By INSIDER’s Mark Bisson and Christian Radnedge

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