(WFI) One in seven Canadians tuned into the FIFA Women’s World Cup Canada 2015 kickoff match on June 6 from Edmonton.

Merchandise displays in B.C. Place. (ATR)

That from the Numeris ratings agency, after Canada edged China 1-0 on a Christine Sinclair penalty kick seen live on CTV network, TSN and its French-language equivalent, RDS.

An average of 1.8 million Canadians watched the game. It peaked at 2.6 million viewers for Sinclair’s winning strike in injury time. Numeris reported that 5.6 million unique viewers viewed some or all of the match.

The match was preceded by an opening ceremony that featured Sarah McLachlan and Tegan and Sara.

World Cup Hits West Coast

Penalty kicks galore as the FIFA Women’s World Cup Canada 2015 opened Group C action in Vancouver’s B.C. Place Stadium with a June 8 doubleheader.

Defending champion Japan greets its fans after a 1-0 win over Switzerland. (ATR)

Japan’s Aya Miyama scored from the spot for the defending champions in the 29th minute after Switzerland goalkeeper Gaelle Thalmann fouled Kozue Ando. Ramona Bachmann threatened to equalize in the second half, but could not finish. She penetrated the Japanese defence on one run, but her attempt ended when she slipped by the touchline of the new Polytan Ligaturf surface in the 54th minute.

Japan met Canada in a friendly at the same venue in 2014, on the previous version of a Polytan Ligaturf synthetic field. Miyama said that was better than the new surface, which was installed only at the end of May.

“The last turf was easier for us,” she said at the post-game news conference. “The ball movement could be predicted, but of course if it were easy for us it would have been easy for Switzerland as well. In this case, dribbling was difficult.”

The doubleheader came the day after FIFA said the new pitch received its 2 Star certification. Crews used steamrollers and sand and even blocks of ice to harden the pitch after it failed bounce tests. Teams trained on it for the first time June 7. Its only previous match action was the Vancouver Whitecaps’ May 30 Major League Soccer match against visiting Real Salt Lake, after which players complained that it was too slippery and dusty.

Aya Miyama, Japan’s player of the match in the 1-0 win over Switzerland. (ATR)

In the earlier match, Gaelle Enganamouit scored a trio in Cameroon’s 6-0 rout of Ecuador.

Enganamouit’s last goal was also the last of three penalty kicks converted by Cameroon.

Ecuador was shorthanded for the final 24 minutes of the match after captain Ligia Moreira was red carded in the 66th minute.

B.C. Place Stadium’s retractable roof was open, through which sunshine splashed the Ecuador penalty area for the first half. The Canada 2015 organizing committee had considered restricting ticket sales to level 2 before offering discounts to increase attendance. Vancouver city hall offered all of its workers a 50% off deal on as many as 20 tickets each to encourage a bump in attendance.

Group C action continues June 12. More than 43,000 tickets have been sold for the June 16 match between the U.S. and Nigeria. The stadium’s regular advertised capacity is 54,500.

FIFA ordered the stadium’s only full-time, year-round tenant, the British Columbia Sports Hall of Fame and Museum, closed during game days. The province’s sports shrine, which recently inducted members of the Canadian bronze medal winning team from London 2012, is being compensated an undisclosed amount.

“FIFA ‘owns’ the building right now,” said the Hall’s executive director Allison Mailer in an interview with The Province. “We would still love to be integrated into the whole event, but that isn’t happening.”

The Hall of Fame’s feature gallery is about the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics, which used B.C. Place as the ceremonies venue. The Hall was open limited hours during the Games, albeit behind security barriers.

Canada 2015 action spreads to Moncton (France versus England and Colombia versus Mexico) and Montreal on June 9 (Spain versus Costa Rica and Brazil versus South Korea).

U.S. Debuts In Winnipeg

Megan Rapinoe scored twice to lead the U.S. to a 3-1 win over Australia in Winnipeg.
Goalkeeper Hope Solo was the winning goalkeeper, the day after an ESPN report shed more light on her arrest in a domestic violence incident in June 2014 near Seattle.

Arrest records show she was tackled to the ground after a dispute with the son of her half-sister, Teresa Obert, and taunted police when she was detained.

Police records claim Solo was the aggressor. Her case was dismissed on procedural grounds, but State of Washington prosecutors are appealing. Solo has claimed that she was the victim. U.S. Soccer Federation did not suspend Solo for the incident.

Century Mark

Germany, the 2003 and 2007 champions, became the first national team to reach the century mark.

Melanie Behringer scored Germany’s 100th goal in Women’s World Cup play during the June 7 10-0 win over Cote d’Ivoire in Ottawa. The scoreline, however, fell short of Germany’s Women’s World Cup record margin of 11-0 registered at China 2007 against Argentina.

By INSIDER staff

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