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Draw for FIFA Women's World Cup USA 2003 Set for Thursday, July 17 at the Home Depot Center

CHICAGO (Tuesday, July 8, 2003) - The Final Draw for the FIFA Women's World Cup USA 2003 will take place on Thursday, July 17 at 11 a.m. PT (2 p.m. ET) at The Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif., located just outside of Los Angeles. The Final Draw will feature some of the top players from the U.S. Women's National Team, as well as players from a number of nations qualified for the tournament and will decide all the match-ups for the 32-game, 16-team, four-group tournament.

On the day prior to the Final Draw, FIFA will conduct a press conference to announce the long-awaited first edition of the FIFA Women's World Rankings and the launch of the FIFA Women's World Cup Official Web Site, That announcement will confirm the four seeded teams, widely considered to be the United States (guaranteed a seeded position as host and defending champion), China, Germany and Norway.

All but one of the 16 spots for FIFA Women's World Cup USA 2003 has been filled, with the final team to be determined via a two-game playoff between the third-place teams from CONCACAF (Mexico) and AFC (Japan) that began on Saturday (July 5). The teams tied 2-2 before an estimated crowd of 75,000 in Mexico City's Azteca Stadium and will conclude their playoff series on Saturday (July 12) at National Stadium in Tokyo.

The Final Draw will place the 16 qualified teams into four groups (A, B, C and D) of four teams. As the host and defending FIFA Women's World Cup champion, the USA has already been slotted as team A1. The rest of the draw is wide open, with world powers like '99 runner-up China, 2000 Olympic champion Norway, and European champion Germany all jockeying for position with strong contenders like CONCACAF Women's Gold Cup runner-up Canada, South American champion Brazil and two-time defending Asian champ North Korea. The other countries that have advanced to the FIFA Women's World Cup USA 2003 are Argentina, Australia, France, Ghana, Nigeria, Russia, South Korea and Sweden.

The road to the Home Depot Center and the final in Los Angeles on Oct. 12 begins on Saturday, Sept. 20 with matches at Columbus Crew Stadium and Lincoln Financial Field, while the U.S. Women are set to open on Sept. 21 as part of Opening Ceremonies at RFK Stadium in Washington, D.C. The tournament schedule also features quarterfinal matches at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, Mass., and quarterfinal and two semifinal games at PGE Park in Portland, Ore.

The FIFA Women's World Cup USA 2003, which is being presented by MasterCard, will mark the third time in 10 years that the U.S. Soccer Federation has hosted a FIFA World Cup event. In 1994, the FIFA World Cup was introduced to the American public for the first time, resulting in the highest attended event in FIFA history, and in 1999 the FIFA Women's World Cup was the most successful women's sporting event ever.