Postmortem on Women's World Cup 

Postmortem on Women's World Cup

Let's hope any chance of resurrecting the WUSA didn't hinge on the success of the recent Women's World Cup.

The tournament, which was hugely successful in 1999 when the American women won the title, was poorly attended, poorly watched, and suffered from a shockingly poor performance by this year's U.S. squad.

The slightly favored Americans cruised into the semi-finals against Germany, who made them look like puny non-Tuetontonic girly girls in a 3-0 thrashing. That set up a championship match that was off the charts in its irrelevence to American sports audiences--Germany vs. Sweden, live on ABC opposite NFL football. Other than Colonel Klink, the only people who could have possibly watched that were guys who mistakenly thought they were tuning into som kind of competition with the Swedish Bikini Team, but even those guys might have have been scared away by the Munich Olympics-inspired spectres of a German Bikini
Team and bulges in all the wrong places.

It was truly a blow for any women's soccer fans who hope the sport can progress in scope and popularity. No longer can they espouse the success of the '99 WWC in an unqualified manner. And no longer can they rely on the marketability of soccer fox Mia Hamm, as she has retired from World Cup play. (Speaking of Hamm, who is engaged to Nomar Garciaparra, whose recent failure was worse: the U.S. women's or the Boston Red Sox's?)

Certainly, the Women's World Cup will enure and--without this year's troubles with the SARS scare and the resultant change of venue from China to the U.S.--should prosper once again. The same cannot be said for the WUSA.

Postscipt to the Postscript: I found this little nugget on Robert Wagman's column on Apparently the TV rights to the WWC were owned entirely by Phil Anschultz, one of the main investors in Major League Soccer, who then paid Disney for air time on ESPN and ABC. (The same arrangement was in place for the '02 World Cup, with MLS as the rights

So don't feel sorry for ABC about the ratings disaster of the WWC; rather, worry about the MLS who surely took a big windfall--something they can't really afford. Wagman writes that this may explain the timing of the WUSA's folding right before the WWC, as the WUSA was rebuffed in their efforts to secure a bailout from the MLS.

And speaking of the MLS and TV, why are the current MLS playoffs airing only on Fox Sports World? It's a great channel--an absolute godsend for any American soccer fan--but it isn't in very many households and the league has a TV deal with ESPN. The playoffs should be a showcase for the league and potential fans shouldn't have to go searching into the nether regions of their satellite menus to find them.

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Sun Oct 16, 2005 12:19 am MST by Lakers Tickets

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