The FIFA Women's World Cup Canada 2015 began to take shape Friday when six Canadian cities were chosen to host the 24 teams and 52 games of the biggest tournament in women's sports.
Edmonton, Moncton, Montreal, Ottawa, Winnipeg and Vancouver won the right to host matches for the expanded championship, which will be covered exclusively in the United States by FOX.
FIFA President Joseph "Sepp" Blatter greeted representatives from each of the chosen cities at ceremonies in Ottawa, after reminding those in attendance how the women's game has grown.
"In Sweden in 1994 I took a risk," Blatter said. "Then, I said the future of football is feminine."
Blatter noted that Canada's World Cup will be twice the size of the 1994 event and said that more than 30 million women are now playing the game worldwide. The most recent Cup, staged in Germany last summer, set global television audience records as Japan won the title in a thrilling final against the United States.
Friday's announcement did not reveal where the opening game or final will take place.
By selecting three cities from Eastern Canada (Moncton, New Brunswick; Montreal, Quebec; Ottawa, Ontario), one from the Midwest (Winnipeg, Manitoba) and two from the Canadian West (Edmonton, Alberta; Vancouver, British Columbia), the organizing committee ensured the tournament will cover the length and breadth of Canada.
The most notable absentee is Toronto, but that city reportedly declined the opportunity to participate because it will be hosting the 2015 Pan American Games.
The United States will begin qualifying for the 2015 Cup after this summer's Olympic Games in London. Dates for qualification have not been announced. Only one team is officially out of the upcoming Women's World Cup: North Korea was barred after several of their players tested positive for banned substances after the 2011 Women's World Cup.