Volume 93, Issue 4

Wednesday, May 28, 1999


SPORTS

Women's World Cup making strides

Players in the sun a little too long

Millenium Moment

Women's World Cup making strides




Gazette file photo



THE WOMEN ARE READY TO KICK IT IN '99. The Women's World Cup '99 is being held in the United States this summer and the eyes of the soccer world will be watching.

By Chad Thompson

Gazette Staff



At the end of June only the best women's soccer players will converge in the United States for the third Women's World Cup of soccer.

Steve VanDerpool, VP-communications for the Women's World Cup '99, said they are tremendously excited about hosting the event. "A lot of people are involved. We have 3,000 volunteers and a full-time staff," he said. "We had a great success with the Men's World Cup in '94 and the opportunity came up for the women's cup and the U.S. made the bid."

VanDerpool said the event has begun to gain a lot of momentum. "It was supposed to be played in smaller stadiums across the Eastern U.S.," he explained. "But now it is to be played at major stadiums. We have sold close to 400,000 tickets and hope to get up to 500,000 tickets sold. We had originally planned for 318,000 tickets sold."

The sites for the games include Portland, San Francisco, San Jose, Los Angeles, Chicago, Boston and New York. VanDerpool said all 32 games will be televised on ABC, ESPN and ESPN 2. He added they also have international television deals with over 50 countries.

VanDerpool said he feels the World Cup will have a positive effect upon women's soccer and women's sport.

"Women's soccer has been growing," he said. "The important thing about the games is the legacy that it leaves behind. The effects of the World Cup will be seen in the amount of women involved in soccer in two or three years."

VanDerpool also pointed out the games have not only impacted the U.S. but other countries as well. "We have increased the amount of teams in the tournament from 12 to 16," he said. "A country like Brazil has begun to put a lot more resources behind their team in hopes of doing well at these games."

VanDerpool explained the event is gaining great interest from not only the soccer world but also from corporate sponsors. "We have 2,000 media credentials to cover the World Cup," he said. "We also have 19 sponsors which include Adidas and Bud Light. The awareness has grown and has increased dramatically."

Jim Moorehouse, director of communications for the U.S. Soccer Federation, echoes VanDerpool's sentiments. "The event is really going to break through for women's sport," he said. "The ticket numbers are amazing, they are going to sell out the opener. The high numbers are key for creating a legacy for a stand alone women's sporting event."

Moorehouse sees the final key for the event as being the television coverage the event receives. "Sponsorship is very important and the kind of coverage that you receive on television."

Moorehouse said he also sees the event as having a beneficial effect not only on women's sport in the U.S. but also world-wide. "We look at it as a jumping off point," he said. "It will increase awareness in U.S. women's soccer and sport as well as an increased awareness globally for women's sport. It is followed by the 2000 Olympics and a women's professional soccer league is always a possibility."

Canada will be one of the participating teams in the World Cup '99. Mehrdad Masoudi, director of communications for the Canadian Soccer Federation, said he sees the games as a positive turn for women's soccer in Canada. "I hope that the games will be able to do for the Canadian team what the '94 World Cup did for the American team," he said.

Masoudi added he hopes the games will both increase the awareness and visibility of soccer in Canada and expose the women's soccer to North America like the '94 games introduced men's soccer to the mass public.

Western's women soccer coach, Sheri Kitching, sees the games as having a positive effect in Canada. "It is great for sport and a great promotion for women's sport," she said. "The participation of team Canada in the Cup will aid in the funding of the sport at that level. The qualification of team Canada is the beginning of things to come."


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Copyright The Gazette 1999