CHICAGO (Sunday, November 16, 2003) - U.S. Soccer has been nominated by CONCACAF for the annual FIFA Fair Play Award, the winner of which will be announced on December 15 at the FIFA World Gala in Basel, Switzerland.
"The U.S. Soccer Federation was able to successfully organize the FIFA Women's World Cup within the limited time of four months as against the six years advance notice that is normally given to a Host country," said CONCACAF President and FIFA Vice President Jack Warner in making the formal nomination.
Originally schedule for China from Sept. 23 to Oct. 11, the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2003 was moved out of the country by FIFA on May 3 because of the threat of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome. At the time, FIFA sighted U.S. Soccer's impressive and detailed bid, presented in a way that assured the sport's governing body that the United States could handle the unique challenges that would come with hosting a tournament of its magnitude with just 120 days to prepare.
In that short amount of time, U.S. Soccer and FIFA worked together tirelessly to format a new schedule, select six venues on short notice to host matches, create a ticketing infrastructure, organize work forces and volunteers in each venue, finalize marketing partnerships, stage the FIFA Women's World Cup Final Draw at the Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif., set travel schedules, lock down team training sites, organize a credentialing system, finalize a TV schedule, etc., etc.
“From the beginning for us, our focus was on not only ensuring that the Women’s World Cup would go on as scheduled, but it was also about making sure it continued to be a wonderful platform for women’s athletics around the world," said U.S. Soccer President Dr. S. Robert Contiguglia. "In our estimation, this event was 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 that the competition was staged in a manner worthy of its stature in the sporting landscape.”
The 16-team, 32-match tournament was eventually played in the United States from Sept. 20 through Oct. 12 in six venues across the country. The competition drew an amazing 365,527 fans across 17 match dates, an average of 21,502. On the final weekend of action at the new Home Depot Center in Carson, California, a total of 51,390 fans came out to see Germany defeat Sweden in overtime and watched the U.S. defeat Canada to maintain their perfect top three record in every women's world championship event ever played.
The FIFA Women’s World Cup USA 2003 marked the third time in 10 years that the U.S. Soccer Federation has hosted a FIFA World Cup. 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 groundbreaking Women’s World Cup was, by every measurable yardstick, the most successful women’s sporting event ever.