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2003 Women's World Cup Announcement Conference Call Quotes

U.S. Soccer President Dr. Robert Contiguglia, Secretary General Dan Flynn joined the Women's National Team head coach April Heinrichs and co-captains Joy Fawcett and Julie Foudy for a media teleconference after the announcement of the 2003 World Cup being moved to the United States.

Dr. Robert Contiguglia, U.S. Soccer President

Opening Comments:
"I want to express our sympathy to the Chinese federation. I know those folks worked incredibly hard to host this World Cup. Having SARS as a problem is such a huge disappointment and our sympathy goes out to them. I would also like to thank President Blatter and FIFA for showing faith in our organization and our professional staff and the ability to pull this off and I truly believe that we can. I would like to thank Dan and Jay and the rest of our staff in Chicago. These guys have worked incredible, incredible hours putting together documents to meet the FIFA requirements. Their hard work will ensure our success.

"We went after this event because we believed it was the right thing to do. We believe the 2003 Women’s World Cup will show the greatest women athletes in the world, and it was only proper that they have the right platform for it. Certainly the U.S. will provide that platform. I truly believe that with MLS, WUSA and our adult and youth members all working together that this event will come off successfully. I am excited for it. I think it is going to be incredibly hard for us to do this but I think that we have the people who can do this and who are capable of doing this."

Has WUSA entered into your thoughts or served as motivation to stage this event?
"WUSA has provided a home for the top players in the world to perform and you are going to see a better level of play and a higher level of competition than ever before and that is because of WUSA. It is only right that we do this with them."

Do you think that WUSA was a reason that FIFA awarded the Cup to the U.S.?
"I think their commitment is to the women’s game in general, not to the league specifically. They truly believe that worldwide the women’s game needs to move forward. Sepp Blatter is committed to that, and I think that is their major motivation."

April Heinrichs, U.S. Women’s National Team Head Coach

Opening Comments:
"I would like to reiterate Dr. Bob’s thanks and appreciation to FIFA and our team in Chicago. U.S. Soccer has been phenomenal to our team and our sport in a lot of regards and this is just further evidence to Soccer House’s commitment to the women’s game and all of the athletes that we prepared to step out on the national team field. We now sit in a position that we didn’t know was possible as recently as 24 hours ago; we are hosting the Women’s World Cup. I am thrilled and I know all of our players are thrilled. Certainly most of us thought this wouldn’t be possible until a minimum of 2007 or even 2011. We are in a unique position to be playing at home. When I phoned Julie this morning I told her that she will be really living a charmed life, because now she will have played an Olympics and two World Cups at home.

As we finalize our preparations will be dictated by the actual time frame. The most important thing for us between now and when that first game is played is for us as a staff to prepare the team technically, which we still have four games to do. To select the players that come together to represent the U.S. in the best fashion, the most cohesive group we can find on and off the field. And then to control as many factors of this as we can control. Certainly if this World Cup were in China or Sweden the potential distracters will not be as magnified as they will be in the United States. We are going to work hard to ensure that the players get enough rest and that the players understand that we can control a lot of the factors that will help our long term success."

On whether the team minds traveling from city to city through the tournament.
"One of our plans when the Women’s World Cup was scheduled in China, we were in one of the brackets that did the most traveling. The things I’ve learned since I’ve been the head coach of this team is that they adjust to travel very well. They are quite the shoppers. They feel at home in every city in America, because one way or another they have touched so many communities in America. It appears they have friends or family, or someone is calling them from a particular city every time the plane lands. I think it would be great if the schedule works out and we are in every venue, even if it means we do a significant amount of traveling."

What, other than having the home crowd behind you, are the differences in playing the World Cup at home?
"I think first there is the obvious - you are in the comfort of westernized food and housing, cell phones work, accessibility to friends and family is easier, there is less stress around whether your family and friends have made it safely, how do I get to go see them during breaks. Also, there is the fans coming out to watch this team, and as Dan said to make this a world class event. I love that vision because I truly believe that the Women’s World Cup should be met by the ambition of making a first-class event for the athletes, for the game and for the television audience.

"We will be playing in front of our home crowd and there will be enormous support for us. Along with that come the distractions. We have evidence that these women are some of the best at controlling the distractions and staying focused. On of the phrases coming out of this team is that they see pressure as a privilege and the really try to embrace pressurized moments and an opportunity for greatness. As the coach of the team, I know that our veteran players are going to be at their best come World Cup time."

Julie Foudy, Co-Captain of the Women’s National Team

How important is it to develop the next generation during this World Cup?.
"I think it’s very important. I think that’s what this window of visibility is all about, not just with the World Cup but Olympic years, in that you develop young talent and they get time on the field and the public gets more familiar with them and it helps the game of soccer. The old ladies can only play for so long. April has done a great job getting these players played in and getting them the experience of a large tournament. Now we have the added benefit of being able to play in front of home fans."

What will playing at home for the third time in a major competition mean to you?
"I think any player, given the opportunity, would jump at the opportunity. As players we are ecstatic to be hosting it. We echo Bob’s comments in that we were sad for China, but we feel this is the right place to come for women’s soccer. I think that our experience in 1999 was that we had to convince people that this was a big event and to come out. We don’t have the two years, but we have the knowledge of what 1999 was all about. We are confident that the American public will respond and come out and once again we think it will be a special event.

Has there been any kind of negative reaction from any players or other federations saying perhaps this is an unfair advantage for the U.S.?
"In talking to a lot of the players in the league, they want to see the event staged as a world class event, like it should be. Everyone feels bad for China, because they have put so much effort into it and we knew it would have been a great event there, but a lot of the international players in our league have expressed to me their desire to see it come here because of the type of event we can set-up and the type of venues we have. Also, the ability to draw large crowds on such short notice, and in the way the American public has responded to this event in the past. I don’t think there will be any backlash at all."

On whether the team minds traveling from city to city through the tournament.
"One of the benefits of playing in different venues is you get to touch that many more fans. You saw the excitement in 1999 and we always relish the chance to play in different areas, including areas that may not have seen the WUSA that much, so I don’t think it is an issue."

Joy Fawcett, Co-Captain of the Women’s National Team

What will playing at home for the third time in a major competition mean to you?
"I am very excited. I think it is awesome. We are very lucky to be able to play in our home country again and I am very excited. To be able to play in front of more of your family members, and just to be able to increase the awareness of soccer in the U.S. I think I can only help the sport and I thank U.S. Soccer for backing us."

On whether the team minds traveling from city to city through the tournament.
"Traveling can be hard, but something as players we have all gotten used to. With the WUSA and the National Team we obviously do a lot of traveling, and the fact that we don’t have to travel all the way to China is definitely a plus. I don’t think the player’s mind it. We do feel at home in cities all over the U.S. and being able to reach all of our fans across the U.S. is something we enjoy."

Dan Flynn, U.S. Soccer Secretary General

Is 8 to 14 million dollars a realistic figure on the budget for this event?
"I think that is probably a fair number. There is still work being done as we speak. What we laid out was a framework to FIFA that essentially it was three different financial models. First of all, let me put our goal out there to stage a world class event. Our pitch to FIFA was that we are interested in partnering with them, and we are moving forward with a partnership with FIFA. First and foremost is to have world class event. We think we can do that within a framework of ticket packages that at the end of the day put us close to a break-even situation. We know it is a challenge but that is our goal.

Can you comment on the Canadian bid to host games in Edmonton, which was a very strong home to the 2002 FIFA U-19 Women’s World Championship?
"I spoke directly with Kevin Pipe before we went to Zurich. We did have a discussion in Zurich about that possibility. As we moved through the whole scheduling, whether you move east to west or west to east, there were some challenges if you will. Some other challenges included governmental approval for travel, quarantines, those types of things. But ultimately it was FIFA’s decision. It was not our decision. We certainly spoke with the Canadian Federation and were intrigued by the opportunity, but it just didn’t work out."

Has there been any kind of negative reaction from any players or other federations saying perhaps this is an unfair advantage for the U.S.?
"I think the process was very fair. There were more than the United States bidding on this, and I think FIFA did a very good job of making sure the process was equitable and fair for all."

In regards to the final, is there any reluctance in going back to the Rose Bowl and having people compare it to 1999?
"Going back to the Rose Bowl would not be a concern. From our perspective, going back to the Rose Bowl in 2003 would not pose any problems for us.

"I think the history of the Rose Bowl is a positive statement on the history of our sport. Both in the Women’s World Cup final in 1999 and the men’s final of 1994. I think the 2003 Women’s World Cup has a completely different set of dynamics, so we would clearly factor the Rose Bowl in and, as you well know, we haven’t made a final decision, but I think that venue bodes well for the sport.

"We should also recognize the great investment that has been made in the Home Depot Center. For those of you who haven’t seen it, I think it is magical. It is a soccer-specific stadium and a national training center for U.S. Soccer and our National Teams, so I think we have two really good options there, but clearly the legacy of 1994 and 1999 of the Rose Bowl being filled to the brim is a very positive statement."

Has FIFA given you any kind of financial guarantee?
"We went it and said that we think the best way to stage a first class event, and here is how we think we can do it. We went in with both eyes open. There have been no finalized terms to which they would underwrite. We are at risk, and they said that they said they would certainly recognize our efforts. We are working through a lot of issues with marketing, with our venues yet to be selected. I think the best way to look at it as a partnership but no guarantee at this point."

Will FieldTurf in Giants Stadium, Seattle and other venues be an obstacle?
"The requirements we received for this particular event from FIFA is that all pitches must be grass."

Is there any downside that you have played out to hosting?
"When you are in business you always look at reality, and this is a challenge is many ways. Once again, for the opportunity to have our sport on the front page and for our team to have a chance to win yet another world championship at home is one that just doesn’t come around very often. It’s very unique. We would like to look at our downside is an investment, if it is anything. And not to minimize that because it might be a sizeable investment, but it is the right thing to do for our sport and for our industry."

What is the priority list for things that you have to do?
"We need to working diligently with venues. Both Jay Berhalter and myself have been dealing with a variety of venues and working on the schedule we have sent anywhere from 12 to 14 scenarios to FIFA regarding venues and schedules. We have lost some venues to do concerts and it’s pretty fluid. But that is something will need to be wrapped up first and foremost, we have already gotten some work done. After the venues are named we would need to look at structure and the personal that are in place already with WUSA and MLS. How the league office of both those entities can help is underway. We have meetings this Tuesday and Wednesday to review all that. Those are the top two things, and the third thing is the whole ticket plan. We have been working on that here now for about 10 days. We are pretty far along.

What will be Soccer United Media’s (SUM) involvement will be in the organization?
"SUM is the TV rights holders for the World Cups of 2002, 2003 and 2006. They will be very, very involved working closely with ABC/ESPN. In addition to that, and separately even though many of the same people are involved, the league offices of WUSA and MLS will be involved. Lynn Morgan has been deeply involved and very supportive along the way as well as Don Garber. We will be utilizing the organizational structure that both leagues have in place as well. SUM is going to be a little different in that they will basically be the broadcaster for the event.

How will the security be increased from the 1999 World Cup until now?
"We have talked to the appropriate U.S. Government agencies. They were very supportive that we could have the opportunity to stage this world-class event. I think the events of the world have altered everyone’s view of that a bit. I would say that as someone who was involved at the venue level in 1994, I think the safety of every involved was important and that has remained with any organizing committee."

Do you anticipate any difficulty in acquiring VISAs for the competitors?
"We have spoken with the appropriate governmental agencies, and don’t anticipate any concerns with getting the required visas for all participants."

Has WUSA entered into your thoughts or served as motivation to stage this event?
"Clearly, the WUSA and the commitment that has been made by the players, by the management of the league as well as the ownership of the league and the investment they have made clearly impacted our thought process in a positive way. I think they see the long term potential for our sport, and what better way then for us to step forward and walk hand in hand with them to make an investment in a wonderful opportunity call the Women’s World Cup."

How much will the busy fall sports landscape in the U.S. impact the schedule?
"Don (Garber) would be the good person to answer this. The schedule clearly shows some challenges. It’s a very fluid process. Don and a couple of folks working directly with him are working constantly with ABC and ESPN to sort through that. I would say that we have been received warmly with some of our ideas on what to do with scheduling and that the network trying to do as many things as it can to accommodate as many games as possible, especially the U.S. games. There are challenges and there will be for some time. I think that collectively everyone will step forward with a darn good schedule for Women’s World Cup. In all the scenarios, playing the final on a Sunday is still a possibility.

What type of crowd estimates have you made?
"In terms for attendance, what impacts it is days of the week, whether it is going to be a weekend, and times. That is being dictated a bit by TV. It’s a little bit premature to go out and throw an average number at you. We will say that we have a heck of a benchmark to try to match in 1999, and we are not going to kid ourselves that can be done. Anyone that has watched our team and our product, we think that it’s very well worth the time. We are confident the U.S. team will draw well and it will be a hot ticket and a hot property for us."

In 1999 the U.S. played once in each venue, is that the favorite scenario?
"It’s the scenario that seems to make the most sense. We have to go back and speak with April which we already have somewhat, but once we review the schedule with FIFA and they give the final approval we would walk hand in hand with April and the team to make sure they understand that was done in 1999. That is the scenario that makes the most sense from a financial point of view, but we want to make sure that the number of team movements in particular are manageable for all teams as well."

Have you talked with some of the youth soccer officials about changing their schedules around the competition?
"We have spoken. We don’t know the exact venue sequence yet, but when we were time frames we had a lengthy discussion and it was very supportive in our board meeting which we held on the 18th of this month. Things like that would enhance the ability to stage this event and make it a success. I don’t mean at the gate, but the overall support for our team. The time frames have been reviewed, and it is busier than 1999. I think the best way to approach this is that everything is different than 1999. We focused and decided to let’s find a way to do it."