The FIFA Women's World Cup 2015 has begun in Edmonton, Canada. The hosts had a fantastic start to the tournament after their team beat China 1-0.
Hosts Canada were elated after Christine Sinclair scored an injury-time penalty against rivals China. Some 54,000 people gathered in Edmonton's Commonwealth Stadium to watch the Group A match.
This year's World Cup has been dedicated to women's issues. The kick-off celebrations depicted the idea through the story of a little girl soccer player. Canadian singer Sarah McLachlan sang the song "In Your Shoes" for the ceremony.
But organizers earned criticism after it was revealed that the FIFA's matchtracker had been referring to the players' performances as "his." The references were changed at halftime.
Outgoing FIFA President Sepp Blatter sent his best wishes, despite a massive corruption scandal that threatened to steal the limelight from the tournament.
FIFA Secretary General Jerome Valcke, accused of making a $10-million (9-million euro) payment to fellow executive Jack Warner, was scheduled to attend the opening ceremony, but canceled after Blatter announced he was stepping down.
More teams this year
The next Group A match will take place between New Zealand and Netherlands on Friday. Two-time winners Germany and the US are set to play against Ivory Coast and Australia respectively on Sunday and Monday.
Saturday's match witnessed the largest number of people for a Canadian national match in any sport, the Canadian Soccer Association said.
Tickets have also sold out for the final on July 5, which Blatter is scheduled to attend. US matches were selling out particularly quickly, organizers said. Around 1.5 million people were expected at games venues in Vancouver, Winnipeg, Ottawa, Montreal and Moncton, well more than the nearly 850,000 visitors who made it to Germany for the 2011 Women's World Cup.
The FIFA Women's title was held for the first time in China in 1991 and includes 24 teams this year, up from 16 in 2014. This year's games were also the first to be played on an artificial turf.
mg/bk (AFP, Reuters, AP)