Thursday, July 10, 2014

United States Wins FIFA Women's World Cup

On July 10, 1999, in front of a Rose Bowl crowd of 90,185, one of the greatest moments in female athletics occurs, as the United States women's soccer team beats China to win the FIFA Women's World Cup. The score was tied at zero at the end of regulation, but on penalty kicks, the U.S. won 5-4. The game-winning kick, and one of the most replayed highlights in history, came from America's Brandi Chastain, who launched the soccer ball just right of Chinese goalie Gao Hong.

As the American crowd erupted, as the United States team raced onto the field in celebration, Chastain whipped off her shirt and twirled it in the air, revealing a black Nike sports bra. The image of Chastain's celebration would grace the cover of Time Magazine, Sports Illustrated, and Newsweek.

It was a phenomenal moment in women's sports. Soccer was said to be irrelevant in America, and women's team sports had been nothing but obscure. But here was a case where a combination of the two had somehow worked.

The crowd of 90,185 was the largest for a women's sporting event ever, while an additional 40 million people watched the World Cup Final on ABC, the largest TV audience ever for a soccer game in America. The team was so huge that even president Bill Clinton was on hand for the final match. The men's soccer team, which had never even come close to winning the World Cup, couldn't approach that if they tried. The women were undeniably better than the men.

Just two years later, the Women's United Soccer Association, the world's first female professional soccer league, played its first game. The league was founded in an attempt to capitalize on the success of the U.S. women's te

am; some believed that the championship game proved that an all-women soccer league could be legitimized in this country. However, even though the league featured many of that team's players, such as Mia Hamm, Briana Scurry, and Chastain, the WUSA failed to reach its expectations. The league incurred zero mainstream attention, and in 2003, the league was forced to fold after accumulating close to $100 million in losses.