Steffi Jones promised she would "get people to come and watch" next summer's showpiece in Sweden as she, fellow UEFA Women's EURO 2013 tournament ambassador Patrik Andersson and the organisers looked ahead to the finals.
The former German international was crowned European champion three times before hanging up her boots in 2007, but has clearly remained as enthusiastic as ever about the continent's flagship international tournament. "It's the greatest event you can have," said Jones at Friday's draw in Gothenburg. "If you need me to go out and get people to come and watch, I'll do it. It's a great milestone we're setting. Sweden has written women's football history for many years, it's a new chapter coming up."
Organisers are convinced they will not need to take up Jones' offer, and that fans of the 11 other competing teams as well as a significant part of the local population will flock to matches and help boost the profile of the women's game. "This tournament means a lot for the future of women's football and its development," explained tournament director Göran Havik. "That's our main ambition, to continue the development of women's football locally, nationally and across Europe. That's our theme right through to next summer's finals."
Swedish Football Association (SvFF) president Karl-Erik Nilsson added that welcoming the tournament to the country, four years after hosting the men's UEFA Under-21 European Championship, will be of particular benefit in encouraging Swedish girls to take up the sport.
"We hope next summer's tournament will be an inspiration to young players," he said. "The fact we're playing at home will also help in the recruiting of new players as there will be more focus from the media. It's a great opportunity to get international experience. It's a chance for our coaches to come and see how things are developing, and bring that to their teams."
With a view to filling the seven venues, spread across the south of the country, organisers have drawn up an attractive range of ticket prices. "I expect the Swedes will be 100% behind the tournament, and hopefully we can fill the stadiums," said former Swedish international Andersson.
Equally optimistic is Karen Espelund, member of the UEFA Executive Committee and chairwoman of the UEFA Women's Football Committee. "We'll see an excellent tournament next summer," she said. "There are some excellent teams now. Next summer's tournament will show that women's football is moving in the right direction."
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