Female soccer athletes from around the world have started arriving in Canada for the seventh FIFA Women's World Cup, which kicks off Saturday with a game between China and Canada.
Players from Team Canada arrived in Edmonton Tuesday to a large, welcoming crowd ahead of the opening game.
“I feel like it’s going to be very overwhelming and emotional and I hope it’s very loud,” said team captain Christine Sinclair about Saturday's match.
Organizers said they have almost reached their goal of selling 1.5 million tickets for the opening game, urging people to buy in advance and not to depend on box office tickets being available. More than 910,000 tickets have already been sold for the 52 scheduled matches in the tournament, which will last from June 6 to July 5.
The world event comes as FIFA is embroiled in a corruption scandal, which has already led to the resignation of FIFA President Seppp Blatter and charges being laid against other former FIFA officials.
“As the host nation for the FIFA Women’s World Cup Canada 2015, the Canadian Soccer Association is confident that the current situation will not impact the competition,” the national body wrote in a statement last week.
Canadian officials added that they’re “committed to protecting the integrity of the game.”
The 24 teams will be competing in six cities across Canada – from the west coast city of Vancouver to the east coast city of Moncton – with eight teams making their debut.
The beginning of the tournament will also overlap with Women's Sports Week, a week-long tribute to female athletes of all caliber, in an attempt to promote women's sports and raise awareness of issues within women's sporting world organized in the U.K.