This September, Jordan will host the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup, the biggest sporting event in the country’s history. Last week, during his visit to the capital Amman, Germany’s midfielder and Arsenal player Mesut Ozil met with the Jordanian female team as they’ve begun their preparations.
This tournament has overjoyed Jordanians, with many commentators celebrating the important event, including Jordan’s Queen Rania Al Abdullah.
In December 2013, FIFA's Executive Committee made a unanimous decision to award Jordan hosting rights for the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup.
Today, three years later, Jordan is preparing for this international tournament. Sixteen national teams are expected to participate, which is scheduled to take place between September 30 and October 21, 2016. During the championship, all teams will play 32 matches in four stadiums in the capital Amman, the kingdom’s northern city of Irbid, and the northeastern city of Zarqa.
“It is an amazing opportunity to have a World Cup coming to the heart of the Arab world. It will help raise awareness of the women’s game and its development across the region and beyond Asia and, while that might have been unthinkable 10 years ago, it has already created so many new opportunities for women,” Samar Nassar, the chief organizer of the competition said, Reuters reported.
Last week, football player Mesut Ozil, midfielder of both the German National Team and the professional football club, Arsenal FC visited the kingdom. During his trip, Ozil joined HRH Prince Ali Bin Al Hussein, President of the Jordan Football Association and Chairman of the Asian Football Development Project (AFDP), in meeting with the players of the Jordan U-17 Women's National Team, and attending one of their many ongoing practices.
Ozil posted on his official Twitter account: “Saw great potential in the Jordan U17 women’s team. I wish them the best of luck in the World Cup.”
In September, during an event marking a one-year countdown to the sporting event, Jordan’s Queen Rania indicated, in a screened pre-recorded video message, that hosting the FIFA U-17 Women's World Cup is considered a “historic, national achievement and source of pride for all Jordanians, emphasizing everyone’s collaborative responsibility, whether as individuals or institutions, to launching a global and overall successful tournament that reflects a positive image of a hospitable and multicultural Jordan.”
Speaking about the event with a Jordanian sports reporter for a local television station, Hussam Al Hasasbeh said: “It is a huge accomplishment for Jordan to host such an important event, especially because it will shed light and show the world the talents of the many Jordanian female football players that are out there.”
Football is an immensely popular sport in Jordan. Growing up in Amman, the sport always united my family members as we would all excitedly sit around the television screen, watching an important match and snacking on popcorn and falafel. Whether the kingdom’s national team is playing or an important international match is scheduled, many friends and relatives commonly gather in large crowds to watch the game together.
Team flags and accessories are sold on Amman’s streets days before a popular match; a favorite is Barcelona vs. Real Madrid. Children are also frequently seen organizing small teams in their neighborhoods and playing the sport in parks and empty, open spaces. Football’s importance in Jordan has been engraved within the kingdom’s culture for centuries.
For the small Middle Eastern country where football is greatly loved, the women’s World Cup will certainly mark a milestone achievement for Jordan.