VANCOUVER — Attendance for the Women’s World Cup will be at least 1.25 million, according to organizers.
That number, which denoted tickets already sold as of Saturday evening for past and future games, beats the tournament record of 1,194,221 set at USA 1999. That edition featured 16 teams and 32 games, as opposed to 24 teams and 52 games for the Canadian version.
"We’re feeling very good, we’re very happy," said Peter Montopoli, general secretary of the Canadian Soccer Association and CEO of the tournament’s national organizing committee.
The number of 1.25 million will grow with the knockout round having just started Saturday but the tournament may not hit the original goal of 1.5 million spectators, a target Montopoli described as "lofty."
The figures are somewhat misleading in that FIFA counts attendance at a doubleheader separately even though one ticket grants access to both games.
Still Montopoli says the figures show how front and centre women’s soccer has been in Canada. And he said soccer attendance records were set in Alberta (53,058), B.C. (52,193), Manitoba (32,716) and New Brunswick (13,138).
"I think that’s a strong statement," he said.
The attendance could mean a profit for Canadian organizers.
Organizers say Sunday’s round of-16 game between Canada and Switzerland in Vancouver could break the record of 53,058 for a Canadian national team home game set June 6 in the tournament opener in Edmonton between Canada and China.
The Germany-Sweden knockout game Saturday in Ottawa was a sellout and a capacity crowd is expected for Sunday’s match in Moncton between Brazil and Australia.
The lone disappointment has been Montreal, although organizers hope the numbers will swell there if the U.S. progresses to the semifinal.
Montopoli said the Women’s World Cup may also erase the FIFA attendance record for a tournament other than the men’s World Cup.
The 2011 men’s U-20 World Cup in Colombia, which had the same number of games and teams as the Canadian women’s tournament, drew 1.309 million.