CHICAGO (Monday, May 26, 2003) — FIFA President Sepp Blatter announced today that the United States will host the 2003 FIFA Women’s World Cup, after the U.S. Soccer Federation had organized an impressive bid to assist FIFA and stage the event on short notice.
“This is an historic day for soccer in the United States,” said U.S. Soccer President Dr. S. Robert Contiguglia. “We have been confident from the very beginning that our infrastructure and experience could make this a reality, and we now have approximately 120 days to do something that no one has ever attempted. Staging an event of this stature and size in this short amount of time will be a great challenge, but we will succeed because of the support and organizational abilities of the entire U.S. Soccer family.”The 2003 Women’s World Cup had originally been scheduled for China from Sept. 23 to Oct. 11, but was moved out of the country by FIFA on May 3 because of the threat of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome. FIFA chose the United States over Sweden, the only other country besides the USA to make a formal bid to host the tournament.
“We applaud FIFA for their swift action in not only ensuring that the Women’s World Cup will go on as scheduled, but also in making sure it continues to be a wonderful platform for women’s athletics around the world,” added Contiguglia. “In our estimation, this event is just too important to risk delaying or canceling it, so from the outset our thought process was, first-and-foremost, to help FIFA and to make sure the competition is staged in a manner worthy of its stature in the sporting landscape.”
The 2003 Women’s World Cup will mark the third time in 10 years that the U.S. Soccer Federation has hosted a FIFA World Cup. In 1994, the 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 groundbreaking Women’s World Cup was, by every measurable yardstick, the most successful women’s sporting event ever.
“Although no final decisions have been made at this time, we are considering a framework that will see the tournament staged in four to seven venues from coast-to-coast, in the same basic window of dates that the tournament was originally scheduled,” said U.S. Soccer Secretary General Dan Flynn. “No timetable has been set for an announcement on venues and scheduling, and we won’t speculate on venues until all the pieces of a very complicated puzzle are in place.”
With just four months to completely organize the Women’s World Cup, the organization will have some marked differences from the 1999 tournament.
With obvious time constraints to completely organize the event, there will not be a local organizing committee that is normally set up for tournament’s of this magnitude. Instead, U.S. Soccer will set up a structure in which Dr. Contiguglia would serve as Chairman, overseeing a yet to be determined Management Committee. Flynn will serve as CEO, dealing directly with the leadership of the USA’s top two professional soccer leagues – Don Garber and Lynn Morgan of the MLS and WUSA, respectively – and with FIFA’s centralized functions, as well as the venues ultimately hosting games.
While no venues or schedule has been finalized, U.S. Soccer is operating under a framework in which all 32 matches in the 2003 Women’s World Cup would be played as doubleheaders across 16 game dates. The original schedule for China had all the matches being played as doubleheaders.
Ticketing details will be announced as the venues and schedule begin to take shape, but there are plans in the works to have a pre-sale for members of U.S. Soccer community and registered fans at ussoccer.com. Once the venues and schedule are in place, plans for television and the broadcast schedule will also be finalized with the expectation of a significant presence on our TV partners ABC, ESPN and ESPN2.
2003 WOMEN’S WORLD CUP TIMELINE
May 3: FIFA Executive Committee moves tournament out of China because of threat of SARS
May 6: U.S. Soccer makes official presentation to FIFA in Zurich, Switzerland
May 9: On-going discussion with FIFA continues; U.S. Soccer submits additional documentation to FIFA
May 15: FIFA sets May 18 deadline for interested federations to submit formal bids
May 19: FIFA is in receipt of formal bids from USA and Sweden, as well as a Canadian bid to host group action in Edmonton should U.S. be awarded WWC
May 22: Canada officially withdraws proposal to co-host
May 23: FIFA Emergency Committee meets in Zurich
May 26: FIFA awards 2003 Women’s World Cup to U.S. Soccer