BY LIAM MORGAN
A 23-strong FIFA legends squad has been unveiled by world football’s governing body as part of a campaign to promote this year’s Women’s World Cup in France.
The players on the team, comprised of 13 women and 10 men, are tasked with helping drive attendances at the tournament, generating engagement and inspiring a new generation to play women’s football through the initiative.
The squad includes the likes of World Cup winners Marcel Desailly of France and Brazil’s Gilberto Silva, two-time UEFA Champions League winner Michel Salgado of Spain and Argentina’s Esteban Cambiasso.
Australian Tim Cahill, former Ghana international Michael Essien and former South Korean star Park Ji-sung are among the other men on the legends team.
The 13 women named on the squad include two-time Olympic gold medallist and World Cup winner Kristine Lilly of the United States, France’s Laura Georges and former England international turned television pundit Alex Scott.
They are joined by the likes of Scott’s ex-England team-mate Kelly Smith, Nadine Kessler of Germany and Canada’s Karina LeBlanc.
Each have been given a superhero name and superpower by FIFA.
“The eighth edition of the FIFA Women’s World Cup will be very special and it takes place at a time when women around the globe are uniting to make their voices heard,” said FIFA secretary general Fatma Samoura.
“he tournament’s official slogan ‘Dare to Shine’ echoes the current world movement towards female empowerment and I am looking forward to seeing teams of strong and passionate women, from 24 different countries, illuminate football stadiums in France with their skill.
“Our superheroes will help us to reach a global audience of one billion and make the FIFA Women’s World Cup France 2019 our biggest and best yet – for players, for fans, for local communities and for the empowerment of girls and women.”
The announcement coincided with the announcement from FIFA that individual match tickets for the tournament are set to go on sale to the general public on March 7.
A total of around 330,000 tickets have been sold so far following the launch of ticket packages and an exclusive pre-sale for Visa customers.
Individual ticket prices will start at €9 (£8/$10) for category four across all group matches except the opening match between France and South Korea in Paris on June 7.
The cheapest ticket for the final in Lyon on July 7 costs €23 (£20/$26) and range through to €84 (£73/$95) for the top category.
Norway, South Korea, and the 2018 Africa Cup of Nations winners Nigeria will compete in Group A alongside hosts France.
Germany, China, Spain and South Africa were drawn into Group B, and Australia, Italy, Brazil and tournament debutants Jamaica will compete in Group C.
Group D includes England, Japan, Scotland and Argentina.