(WFI) FIFA’s president isn’t coming to the Canada 2015 final, but the U.S. vice president is.
Joe Biden and his wife Jill are leading the U.S. delegation, the White House announced. Former men’s national team star Cobi Jones and women’s national team star Mia Hamm will be the Bidens’ guests.
Five years ago, Joe Biden led the U.S. delegation at the opening of the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics, also at B.C. Place Stadium.
The official representative for Japan was to be determined, according to the Japan consulate in Vancouver. Canada’s Prime Minister Stephen Harper and sports minister Bal Gosal are expected to attend, but their itineraries have not been made public.
Neither IOC president Thomas Bach nor UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon will be at the match, because of previous commitments.
Blatter and secretary general Jerome Valcke’s trip to Canada 2015 was cancelled according to FIFA announcement earlier this week. Blatter lawyer Richard Cullen cited unspecified “personal reasons.” It is believed that Blatter was concerned about a possible arrest, as Canadian authorities often collaborate with American counterparts. He was not among the 14 charged after the May 27 police raids in Zurich, but is reportedly under investigation relating to the corruption scandal.
FIFA senior vice-president Issa Hayatou is the highest-ranking of five FIFA executive committee members at the tournament. Lydia Nsekera of Burundi is the highest ranking of three women on the FIFA executive committee. They may both be candidates to handle Blatter’s traditional trophy presentation duties at B.C. Place on July 5, but FIFA would not comment on who will do this.
Hayatou will not, however, be attending today’s closing news conference at the Westin Bayshore Hotel in Vancouver.
“Lydia Nsekera and Tatjana Haenni have been in Canada over the course of the entire FIFA Women’s World Cup and therefore it was decided that they are best placed to be the FIFA officials reviewing the various aspects of the competition at the closing press conference,” said a statement from FIFA.
Meanwhile, Blatter’s nephew Philippe Blatter may be in Vancouver or en route. He is CEO of Infront Sports and Media, FIFA’s broadcast partner through Host Broadcast Services. Infront will not confirm or deny, citing company policy against commenting about executives’ travel. Infront has denied accusations of nepotism for years. Infront was sold in February for $1.2 billion to Chinese real estate tycoon Wang Jianlin’s Dalian Wanda Group. Wang met with both Blatters during the FIFA Congress in May. The Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics supporter – the vote comes end of July – is also championing a potential China World Cup bid.
FOX sets more records
FOX’s coverage of the 2-0 U.S. win over Germany was another big ratings winner on U.S. network TV. The broadcast averaged 8.4 million viewers and peaked at 12 million, becoming the third most-watched women’s match in U.S. TV history and most-watched semifinal, beating the 5.9 million who tuned in to 2006’s Germany versus Italy match.
Only the 1999 and 2011 Women’s World Cup finals (17.98 million and 13.46 million, respectively) drew more on U.S. TV.
It was also the network’s most watched show since American Idol on April 1.
Reported in Vancouver by Bob Mackin
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