Jitka Klimkova says everyone remained calm in the build up to New Zealand’s 1-0 victory over Norway which opened the Women’s World Cup in Auckland, where a fatal shooting took place on Thursday morning.
The incident, which occurred in the city’s central business district close to Norway’s team hotel, resulted in three deaths – including that of the suspected gunman – with more wounded in what New Zealand Police characterised as an “isolated incident” and “not a national security risk”.
FIFA said a decision was taken to proceed with the match as planned after consulting with New Zealand authorities and the participating teams, who observed a moment of silence for the victims before the tournament kicked off at Eden Park.
The Football Ferns opened their campaign in style as Hannah Wilkinson’s second-half goal was enough to set the pace in Group A.
Klimkova said: “The players today were more preparing for themselves and it was pretty relaxed, but we still gave them the option to speak to the staff to get clarity but I believe the clarity was there, so they were more focussing on their individual preparation.”
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FIFA also issued a statement before kick-off assuring they had no safety concerns for the rest of the tournament, which will see England open their campaign against Haiti on Saturday and conclude with the August 20 final at Sydney’s Stadium Australia.
FIFA president Gianni Infantino said: “We appreciate the collaboration with the New Zealand authorities from the earliest moment of this tragic incident.
“We have been involved in ongoing communication from the outset, and we have also received the necessary reassurances from Minister for Sport and Recreation Grant Robertson in relation to the safety and security of the participating teams and fans at the FIFA Women’s World Cup in New Zealand.
“FIFA extends its deepest condolences to the families and friends of the victims who lost their lives, and our thoughts and prayers remain with those who have been injured in this tragic incident.”
Robertson echoed Infantino’s assurances, saying: “This incident is in no way related to the upcoming FIFA Women’s World Cup tournament and there are no national security concerns. We have provided the necessary assurances about the security of the tournament to FIFA’s leadership this afternoon.
“There is a comprehensive security plan around our hosting of the FIFA Women’s World Cup, and we will continue to work with the police who have been part of an operational planning group for the tournament, and as such, have plans in place and were well placed to deal with this morning’s incident.”
An earlier statement from football’s global governing body said FIFA was “in constant contact” with the teams involved and they are “being supported in relation to any impact that may have taken place”.
Norway’s team hotel is located around 400 metres from where the shooting took place, but a team spokesperson told the PA news agency before the match that everything was calm in the Norwegian squad and preparations for the match were proceeding as normal.
Captain Maren Mjelde said in a statement: “Being informed about the consequences, the Norwegian team’s thoughts are with those affected and their families.
“Everyone probably woke up quite quickly when the helicopter hovered outside our hotel window and a large number of emergency vehicles arrived.
“At first we didn’t know what was going on, but eventually there were updates on TV and the local media. We felt safe the whole time. FIFA has a good security system at the hotel and we have our own security officer in the squad.
“Everyone seems calm and we are preparing as normal for the game tonight, then we may have to adapt if there are any instructions from the authorities.”
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