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Carson Stadium in Line for Cup Final

Women's soccer event would start in East with championship set for Home Depot Center.

June 10, 2003|Grahame L. Jones | Times Staff Writer

Under plans still being completed, the United States Soccer Federation will stage the final of the fourth FIFA Women's World Cup at the Home Depot Center in Carson, probably on Sunday, Oct. 12, and will put on the semifinals as a doubleheader at PGE Park in Portland, Ore.

The Rose Bowl in Pasadena, site of the 1999 championship game, and Spartan Stadium in San Jose, appear to be no longer in the running as venues.

The 16-nation tournament will open on the East Coast, either at Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J., or at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, Mass., and gradually work its way west. Other stadiums to be used include RFK Stadium in Washington and Crew Stadium in Columbus, Ohio.

The 32-game tournament is being organized as 16 doubleheaders. The U.S. team is the defending world champion and, if it again reaches the final, will play in each of the six venues.

"That's the scenario that makes the most sense from a financial point of view," Dan Flynn, U.S. Soccer's chief executive, said last month, "but we want to make sure that the number of team movements in particular are manageable for all teams as well."

One highly placed U.S. Soccer official said over the weekend that the world championship "definitely" would open at Giants Stadium, as it did in 1999 when the U.S. defeated Denmark and Brazil beat Mexico in front of 78,972.

But Associated Press reported Monday that the NFL's New York Giants are raising objections, and a Women's United Soccer Assn. official told The Times that Foxboro was a more likely venue for the opening doubleheader on the third weekend in September.

That's because Gillette Stadium is owned by Major League Soccer's Robert Kraft, and tournament organizers can call on the resources of both Kraft's New England Revolution and New England Patriots, as well as the WUSA's Boston Breakers.

A crowd of 50,484 turned out to see the U.S. team at Foxboro in 1999.

It is even possible that RFK Stadium could be the site of the opener. The USSF had planned a Wednesday news conference in New York to announce the venues but then called it off after the plan became public Monday.

The final decisions on venues and a match schedule will be made by FIFA, international soccer's governing body, which is sending a delegation to inspect the six stadiums.

There have been three prime directives from FIFA to U.S. organizers. One is that travel be held to a minimum. Too much travel was a major complaint of foreign teams, especially runner-up China, in 1999.

The other FIFA criteria are that all games be played on grass -- Giants Stadium would have to cover its artificial surface -- and that stadiums seat at least 30,000. That means Crew Stadium, PGE Park and the Home Depot Center will have to add seats for the event.

The Home Depot Center has been selected over the Rose Bowl for at least three reasons. First, as a nod of thanks to Phil Anschutz for investing $150 million in the sports complex on the campus of Cal State Dominguez Hills, and second because when the Galaxy's new home opened on Saturday it instantly became the premier soccer venue in the country.

Of equal consideration, however, is the belief that the Rose Bowl could be cavernously empty if the U.S. team somehow fails to reach either the final or the third-place game.

As for the date of the final, it is being dictated in part by outside influences.

Rather than going up against college football on a Saturday, it is more likely to be played on a Sunday. And since it will be in Carson, there will be no local conflict because the Los Angeles area has no NFL team.

The final decision will depend on television, however, and it remains possible that the final and third-place games could be played Saturday, Oct. 11.

*

(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX)

2003 WOMEN'S WORLD CUP TIMELINE

* May 3: FIFA Executive Committee moves tournament out of China because of the SARS virus.

* 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 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.

Source: U.S. Soccer

Federation

*

World Class

So far, 13 teams have qualified for the Women's World Cup to be held this fall in the United States. Three more berths are still to be determined:

THE FIELD

Africa

Ghana

Nigeria

North and Central America and Caribbean

United States

Canada

South America

Argentina

Brazil

Oceania

Australia

Europe

France

Germany

Norway

Russia

Sweden

Host nation

China*

REMAINING BERTHS

Asia's automatic berths will be determined by which two teams advance to the June 21 Asian final in Thailand. The winner of the third-place game will play Mexico in a home-and-home series to determine the final berth.

*China was originally scheduled to play host to the tournament, but it was moved to the U.S. because of the SARS virus.

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