OTTAWA - The Women's World Cup doesn't kick off in Canada for another three years but FIFA president Sepp Blatter says the tournament is already proof that the investment in women's soccer has paid off.
More teams than ever before will compete in the 2015 World Cup, with the tournament set to expand to 24 countries from 16 and to 52 matches from 32 to 52.
"One day in 1995, when we organized the second women's World Cup ... I have taken a risk. And I have said the future of football is feminine," Blatter said Friday on Parliament Hill.
"It was a risk. But (a person) who never takes a risk will never have a chance. ... It will be a great, great World Cup. It is more than has ever been presented on international scenery here in Canada."
He couldn't help himself from throwing a small jab at a longtime sporting rival.
"Including, I would say, the Olympic Games."
The World Cup, which will kick off in June 2015, is the largest single sporting event for women.
The six tournament host cities are Edmonton, Montreal, Ottawa, Vancouver, Winnipeg and Moncton, N.B.
Toronto did not apply to host, opting instead to focus on the 2015 Pan American Games.
World Cup games will be played at Commonwealth Stadium in Edmonton, B.C. Place in Vancouver, Olympic Stadium in Montreal, Moncton Stadium, the football stadium under construction in Winnipeg, and the revamped Lansdowne Park in Ottawa.
"Canada's rich and diverse cultural composition will ensure that every national squad will feel welcome in Canada with packed stadiums representing our multicultural mosaic," said Canadian Soccer Association president Dominique Maestracci, who is running for re-election Saturday.
Veteran goalkeeper Karina LeBlanc presented Blatter with a Canadian scarf, and she and teammate Rhian Wilkinson met and posed for pictures with the FIFA boss and Prime Minister Stephen Harper.
The federal government has committed up to $15 million to the tournament. That will not be used for infrastructure.
Canada will also the host the 2014 FIFA U-20 Women's World Cup, which will serve as a test event. Canada hosted the inaugural U-20 event in 2002.
Canada was also home to the 2007 men's U-20 World Cup and the 1987 U-16 World Cup.