- Associated Press - Friday, March 25, 2011

More than a half-million tickets for this summer’s Women’s World Cup already have been sold, with games featuring host Germany, the United States and Brazil generating the most interest.

A total of 800,000 tickets were available for purchase, and local organizing committee president Steffi Jones said Friday she is still hoping for sellouts at all 32 games. She plans to tour the nine cities where games will be played in hopes of sparking additional interest among local fans.

China holds the attendance record for a Women’s World Cup, drawing almost 1.2 million fans to the 2007 tournament that was won by Germany.

“We are trying to make this last-minute sales for these games that haven’t been sold out,” said Jones, who is in the United States as part of her tour of the 16 qualifying nations. “We have (people from) so many nations living in Germany that we are trying to get them into the stadiums so it’s a great atmosphere when we have the games in our stadiums.”


The Women’s World Cup begins June 26, with the final July 17 in Frankfurt. Berlin and Frankfurt are the only carry-over sites from the men’s World Cup in 2006. Games also will be played in Wolfsburg, Moenchengladbach, Bochum, Leverkusen, Dresden, Sinsheim and Augsburg.

The tournament will be broadcast to about 200 countries, Jones said, including live coverage of all 32 games in the United States on either ESPN or ESPN2.

Germany is a favorite to win a third straight World Cup along with the United States, the only other two-time winner and reigning Olympic champion, and Brazil, the runner-up at both the 2007 World Cup and Beijing Games in 2008. But the women’s game has gotten stronger throughout the world, as the Americans learned last fall.

The United States was forced to beat Italy in a playoff after being stunned by Mexico in regional qualifying. China, the runner-up in 1999, didn’t even make the World Cup. Neither did Argentina, which won the South American championship in 2006 and played in the last two World Cups.

Colombia and Equatorial Guinea are making their World Cup debuts this year.

“You can see that it’s really getting tighter and tighter,” said Jones, who was part of the German team that won the World Cup in 2003. “I think there will be surprises. If you ask our coach, she always says Japan, North Korea, maybe another European team, maybe an African team.”

Still, Jones expects to see Germany and the United States in the semifinals.

“The other two, we’ll see,” she said.

While a deep run by Germany would be ideal for tournament organizers, Jones said she thinks local fans will support whoever is playing. Almost 400,000 people turned out for the Under-20 World Cup last summer, including a crowd of 21,146 for the third-place game between South Korea and Mexico.

“That’s what makes the World Cup, that fans come and cheer for any teams that play,” Jones said. “I hope that our team does well, too, but also that other teams feel welcomed.”