Nova Scotia

FIFA officials check out Halifax bid

FIFA officials made their final Canadian stop in Halifax on Sunday, as they scout locations for matches for the 2015 Women's World Cup.
FIFA officials Peter Montopoli and Tatjana Haenni are in Halifax on Sunday. (CBC)

FIFA officials made their final Canadian stop in Halifax on Sunday to scout locations for matches for the 2015 Women's World Cup.

But while there is a desire to see soccer in Halifax, there is no spot yet in which to play.

The deadline is looming for a new stadium, as officials are also choosing locations for the 2014 Under-20 Women's World Cup.

The group included Peter Montopoli and Dominique Maestracci, general secretary and president, respectively, of the Canadian Soccer Association, as well as FIFA's head of women's competition, Tatjana Haenni.

They viewed a presentation on the potential stadium, visited training fields, and carried out a hotel inspection.

While Haenni said she likes what she saw in Halifax, the lack of a stadium is a bit of an issue.

"Obviously in Halifax, the big question here is the stadium. So we have heard an update from city representatives and we will just follow up to see what are the next steps from their side," she told reporters on Sunday.

Seven Canadian cities as far away as Vancouver are vying to host games. FIFA officials say they would like to make this a coast-to-coast event.

Halifax Mayor Peter Kelly says 'it's a matter of when,' not if, a stadium will be built in the city. ((CBC))

Halifax Mayor Peter Kelly said he is pushing harder than ever for council to approve a stadium.

"In the past, it's always been whether or not there will be a stadium or not. Now it's a matter of when, not if," he said.

"I think the time is now, and I think we have to move this forward."

Council would need to approve construction before the end of December, which FIFA representatives said they were OK with.

"What we're going by is the deliberations we've had with the city officials — that the plan is to take it to the next step, and we're working with them to take it to the next step," said Montopoli.

"You're not the only one who doesn't have a stadium at the moment," added Haenni with a laugh.

Other cities without FIFA-regulated stadiums include Ottawa and Edmonton.

FIFA expects to list the host cities early in 2012.

If no venue can be found in Halifax, the likelihood of the Maritimes being part of the Women's World Cups would be in Moncton, N.B.

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