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Next year’s Women’s World Cup is coming to a city near you

Bit by World Cup fever?

Can’t wait another four years to experience the spectacle associated with the world’s most-watched sporting event?

Don’t fret. The World Cup is coming to a city near you, and it’s coming next year.

Little do most people around here realize, but Canada is host of the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup June 6-July 5.

And Winnipeg is one of six cities hosting games.

The metropolis of 778,000 people a short drive north on Interstate 29 will host seven Group Stage (first-round) games next summer.

Winnipeg will host two games each on June 8, June 12, June 15 and then one on June 16. All will be played at the new Investors Group Field, a $210 million stadium seating 33,422 fans that’s home to the Canadian Football League’s Winnipeg Blue Bombers.

Tickets for the 24-team tournament go on sale Sept. 10, and it’s expected to sell out quickly.

Most of the 135 national women’s teams from around the globe are still playing games to qualify for these finals, but Winnipeg already knows it won’t host the Canadian national team, which automatically qualifies as host country.

All other teams will find out when and where they play in Canada during the Dec. 6 tournament draw.

The Women’s World Cup is not as big of a spectacle as the men’s World Cup, but that doesn’t mean it’s not full of great athleticism and high drama.

The worldwide TV audience for the women’s game has steadily grown. In fact, the most-watched soccer game in US history was the 1999 Women’s World Cup final in which Team USA defeated China in a dramatic shootout at the Los Angeles Coliseum.

Mostly remembered for player Brandi Chastain ripping off her jersey following her winning penalty kick, the game garnered 18 million TV viewers.

To put that in perspective, the TV audience for that game 15 years ago equaled the audience for this year’s NBA final. Most NFL Monday Night Football games draw about 13 million TV viewers.

Japan won the last Women’s World Cup, played in Germany in 2011. Team USA was runner-up.

Before that, Germany won the tournament in 2007 and 2003, the latter of which was hosted in the US and which saw the US finish third and Canada finish fourth.

But a World Cup venue has never been so close to us. And the US and Canada, longstanding rivals, will again be considered among the favorites.

Winnipeg will be rolling out the red carpet next June and Canadians are known for their friendliness and hospitality.

If you want to see firsthand some fantastic soccer on the worldwide stage, you’ll find it less than four hours to the north.

Von Pinnon is editor of The Forum. Reach him at (701) 241-5579, or on Twitter @inforumed 

Matthew Von Pinnon

Von Pinnon is editor of The Forum.

(701) 241-5579