17 Nov 2008

World football tournament gives game a big boost in NZ

6:51 am on 17 November 2008

The hugely entertaining Fifa U-17 World Cup final has given women's football in New Zealand a massive boost, say leading commentators.

The 16-team competition signed off on Sunday afternoon when North Korea defeated the United States 2-1, a late goal in extra-time sealing victory.

While football may not be New Zealand's favourite game, a crowd of more than 16,000 at Albany Park in Auckland suggested there is plenty of interest in the world's most popular sport.

The chief executive of the event's local organising committee, Chris Simpson, says the event was a huge success.

It attracted more than 214,000 fans over three weeks and Mr Simpson says that surpassed initial projections. All games were also broadcast live on Sky Television.

FIFA's head of women's football Tatjana Haenni says New Zealand's hosting of the inaugural event has set a high benchmark for future hosts.

Ms Haenni says New Zealand should use the success to increase the profile of woman's football in New Zealand.

Mr Simpson says New Zealand has proved itself a worthy host and hopes it will attract more world cups at other levels.

New Zealand's under-17 team failed to qualify for the quarter-final stages after losing two close matches before it beat Colombia 3-1 in it's final round-robin match.