The countdown to the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup Uruguay 2018 began with last Thursday’s launch of the competition’s official emblem. Among those at the event was tournament ambassador and Uruguayan football legend Diego Forlan, who spoke to *FIFA.com *before posing for photos with players from the host nation’s U-17 women’s team.
“As a Uruguayan and a member of the football world, I am delighted that we’re organising a women’s World Cup here,” said Forlan at the event, which was held in the Salon de los Pasos Perdidos at the Uruguayan parliament building in Montevideo.
“It should bring a lot of good things to the women’s game,” added the former Celeste captain, who played at three FIFA World Cup™ competitions and won the adidas Golden Ball at South Africa 2010.
“In the short term it will encourage more and more girls to play football in the streets, neighbourhoods, clubs and schools, which is absolutely essential for a country as small as ours,” he added.
“The impact in the medium and long term will depend on a lot of factors. One of the most important ones will be to use the World Cup as a springboard for developing the domestic club competition. If these girls see that they could make a living from football, it would give it a huge boost.”
Asked what the tournament could mean to South America as a whole, nearly ten years on from the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup Chile 2008, Forlan had this to say: “Even in those countries where women’s football is already more developed, having a World Cup next door can only be positive, even if it’s just to get people talking about the game.”
And what of his view on aspects off the pitch, such as gender inequality? “It’s the ideal opportunity to talk about things like that,” he replied. “Things are changing, but you still get situations where there aren’t equal opportunities, both in the workplace and in everyday life. The World Cup should help raise awareness and speed up change.”
What Uruguay has to offer as a host nation
Sights to see: “This is a beautiful country to come to. There are a lot of things to see and do in Montevideo, Colonia and Maldonado. They’re well worth visiting.”
A passion for football: “Women’s football doesn’t have the same appeal as the men’s game, but then again the fans didn’t see the U-17 or U-20 game as all that important before, and that’s no longer the case. I’m sure they’ll give the World Cup the opportunity that it deserves.”
A message for Uruguay’s U-17 women’s team
“I’m jealous that they’ll be playing a World Cup on home soil. They’re very lucky. They need to prepare well and, above all, enjoy it. I don’t think anyone’s asking them to win the World Cup, but we all want them to go far.”