SBD/August 10, 2012/Olympics

U.S.-Japan Final Draws Olympic Record Crowd As Britain Gives Respect To Women's Soccer

The atmosphere at Wembley Stadium was "electric" with 80,203 fans in attendance
The U.S.-Japan Gold Medal women's soccer match Thursday drew 80,203 fans to Wembley Stadium, a record for a women's game at the Olympics, and "never had women put on such a show at this world-famous venue," according to Michelle Kaufman of the MIAMI HERALD. The previous record for an Olympic women's soccer game was set at the '96 Atlanta Games, "where 76,489 watched the final" between the U.S. and China. U.S. MF Carli Lloyd said, "Eighty-thousand people for a women's final? That says a lot for women's soccer. The whole thing is a dream come true" (MIAMI HERALD, 8/10). The AP's Joseph White noted the teams "put on a back-and-forth, don't-turn-your-head" showcase. Women's soccer is "still in its formative stages in Britain, but the match proved more than worthy for the hallowed grounds of the beautiful game." President Barack Obama during a campaign speech in Colorado acknowledged a second-half lead by the U.S. and said, "The women are doing pretty good right now in soccer" (AP, 8/9). In a special to the PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, Ann Killion writes the U.S. women's soccer team "earned the respect" of Great Britain. U.S. F Abby Wambach: "We need to have these moments, these promoted moments when the light shines so bright on our sport that it's noticed by not only our fans but non-fans. We want clubs around Europe to think, 'You know what, we had a lot of people at Old Trafford and at Wembley.' I hope some of the owners of these big clubs take notice and start putting money into women's programs" (PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, 8/10). In San Jose, Mark Purdy writes the scene for yesterday's game "was epic." Wembley "is the capital of British soccer," but the "female version of the game is, if not demeaned, definitely not celebrated." The announced crowd of 80,203 "was considered a major statement" (SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS, 8/10). U.S. MF Megan Rapinoe said the atmosphere at Wembley Stadium was “just so electric" having 80,000 people at the game and feeling like "every one of them is down on top of you" ("Today," NBC, 8/10).

CROWING ACHIEVEMENT: In Indianapolis, Bob Kravitz writes a third straight Gold Medal for U.S. women's soccer is "an amazing feat when you consider that soccer largely doesn't resonate in our country except when the World Cup or Olympics come around" (INDIANAPOLIS STAR, 8/10). In DC, Sally Jenkins writes the U.S. women's soccer team "has taken its place as one of the greats." Wambach said, "At the end of the day we wanted to make sure people were talking about us for what we were doing on the field" (WASHINGTON POST, 8/10). In Memphis, Geoff Calkins writes, "They have their medals. They have these moments. They have their legacy, which is now secure" (Memphis COMMERCIAL APPEAL, 8/10). 

LEG WORK: In Chicago, Danny Ecker noted the Chicago-based U.S. Soccer Federation "has been busy contributing to the hype, especially online." The USSF "cast a wide net on social media platforms in hopes of tapping into the 'social games' frenzy that has consumed Olympic coverage." Its Facebook app, "with more than 852,000 'likes,' is the centerpiece, rich with content showing players' off-the-field lives, including short video bios where the players discuss themselves and team dynamics, such as who is the biggest prankster (Heather Mitts), who is going to medical school after their soccer career (Rachel Buehler) and whose nickname is 'Baby Horse' (Alex Morgan)." Photo-sharing through Pinterest and the team's Twitter handle "lets die-hard fans interact with players, while introducing the team to those new to the bandwagon." Also, "tying it all together" is the USSF's promotional campaign, "Go For Gold," created by Stone Ward, Chicago (CHICAGOBUSINESS.com, 8/9).

LATEST EXAMPLE OF THE FEMALE GAMES: CBS’ Bob Schieffer reported the London Games “have put women on equal footing atop the medal stand.” CBS’ Mark Phillips said, “These have become the women’s emancipation Games. It’s the first time every country has women on its team.” Phillips said “including women athletes, especially from Saudi Arabia, Brunei and Qatar for the first time was the result of a new sport: Olympic sports arm-twisting. Saudi resistance was only broken-down when the IOC threatened to ban its entire team unless the women were included” (“Evening News,” CBS, 8/9). ABC’s George Stephanopoulos said the London Games, "more than ever before, have been defined by the golden girls.” ABC’s Bill Weir said these Games “will be defined by the fairer athletes” (“World News,” ABC, 8/9). NBC’s Chris Jansing said, “This is the year of the woman” (“Nightly News,” NBC, 8/9).
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