Canadian, Dutch women win openers but fans big winners

Canada scored a heart-stopping injury time win over China to kick off the Womenand’s World Cup on Saturday as the spotlight returned to action on the field after a deflating week of scandal away from the pitch.
Christine Sinclair sent a capacity crowd at a sun-kissed Commonwealth Stadium home happy by slotting the winning spot kick in a 1-0 victory over China.
The Dutch were also celebrating after the Netherlands made a winning World Cup debut with a 1-0 victory over New Zealand.
But the biggest winners on the day were the fans who basked in the excitement and joy the and”beautiful gameand” can create rather than dwell on the dreary details of a corruption bribery scandal that has engulfed the sportand’s governing body, FIFA.
and”It was an amazing atmosphere to kick off this World Cup in front of 50,000-plus fans, Iand’m so proud of our team,and” said Canadian midfielder Sophie Schmidt, who was named player of the match. and”There was never a doubt that game was going to get away from us.and”
While the World Cup got off to a rousing start, it is unclear if the scandals and controversy have had an impact on the tournament that will conclude with a championship game on July 5 in Vancouver.
The Canadian Football Association announced that close to a million tickets had been sold for games at the six venues across the country and while it remains an impressive number, it falls well short of the 1.5 million organisers have targeted.
The biggest event in womenand’s sport, the World Cup was far from the only show in town.
While the sporting world stops for the menand’s World Cup, for the womenand’s tournament it barely slows down.
The Formula One Grand Prix of Canada, a Stanley Cup playoff game, a Triple Crown winner in thoroughbred racing and golfer Tiger Woodsand’ nightmare round all grabbed a chunk of the Saturday North American sport spotlight.
A superb Champions League final in Berlin between Juventus and Barcelona also satisfied much of the football appetite.
With the wider football world caught in the grip of a corruption and bribery scandal, grabbing attention has proven a challenge for the womenand’s showcase.
The Womenand’s World Cup has not been touched directly by the scandal but the questions and mediaand’s search for answers hung over the tournament buildup like a dark cloud.
A controversy over the use of artificial turf that triggered a lawsuit and claims of discrimination by a group of unhappy players also lingered as Canada and China took to the plastic pitch.
In the end it was a column by Globe and Mail columnist Cathal Kelly bashing Edmonton as an unfit venue for the prestigious kick off that provided the greatest outrage in the host nation.
But scandals big and small evaporated in the roar of the largest Canadian crowd for a national team football game as 53,058 filled a sun-kissed Commonwealth Stadium, topping the 51,136 that watched the Canadian men draw 1-1 with Brazil 21 years ago in Edmonton.

SOURCE: Today’s Zaman