Byline: Ken Wright, THE WASHINGTON TIMES
The Women's World Cup is coming back to the United States, and RFK Stadium is a likely early round venue.
FIFA, world soccer's governing body, selected the United States, the 1999 host, over Sweden yesterday to stage the 16-team tournament. On May 3, the organization voted to move the event out of China because of the country's outbreak of SARS.
U.S. Soccer is going to try and keep the tournament in the same time frame (Sept.23 through Oct.11), although an announcement on venues and schedules isn't expected to be made for another week to 10 days. However, RFK is a logical choice to play host to early-round matches. The stadium's only tenants are the Women's United Soccer Association's Freedom and Major League Soccer's D.C. United.
"U.S. Soccer is very aware of RFK's schedule and availability," said Bobby Goldwater, the president of the D.C. Sports & Entertainment Commission, which operates RFK. "At that time of year, we are already set up for soccer."
U.S. Soccer secretary general Dan Flynn said during a conference call yesterday the most likely scenario has the tournament starting on the East Coast and heading West as the tournament advances into the later rounds.
Under FIFA requirements, all stadiums considered must have grass fields and seat a minimum of 30,000. RFK meets those guidelines.
"We're looking at a likely scenario of four to seven stadiums with half of those able to seat over 50,000," Flynn said.
Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, Mass.; Spartan Stadium in San Jose, Calif.; Stanford Stadium in Palo Alto, Calif.; and Philadelphia's new Lincoln Financial Field are also being considered, as well as soccer-specific stadiums - Columbus (Ohio) Crew Stadium and the Home Depot Stadium in Carson, Calif. The latter two would have to add temporary seating to get exceed 30,000.
The 1999 Women's World Cup in the United States - held in June and July - is considered the most successful women's sporting event ever. It drew a crowd of 90,125 to the Rose Bowl for the final between the United States and China. The most lasting image of that tournament was when defender Brandi Chastain ripped off her jersey in celebration of her World Cup-clinching penalty kick for the United States. …