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Cable Nets Eye Soccer Goodbye Games

9/17/2004 9:18 AM Eastern

A number of the matches on the send-off tour saluting U.S. Women’s National Team standouts Mia Hamm, Julie Foudy, Brandi Chastain, Kristine Lilly and Joy Fawcett could wind up on the small screen, according to the U.S. Soccer Federation.

With eight of the 10 dates set for the “Fan Celebration Tour,” which extends into early December, U.S. Soccer officials were looking to finalize the remaining events, as well as TV coverage.

U.S. Soccer spokesman Jim Moorhouse said NBC’s affiliate in Rochester, N.Y., would televise the first game, United States versus Iceland Sept. 25. Rochester is the hometown of Abby Wambach, who headed in the game-winning goal during the National Team’s gold-medal victory over Brazil at the Summer Olympic Games in Athens, Greece.

Moorhouse said U.S. Soccer, the sport’s domestic governing body, is discussing a telecast date with ESPN that would represent the final of the 16 women’s and men’s games the sports programmer airs annually under its current contract.

He added that there have also been conversations with soccer proponents Fox Sports World and Gol TV about picking up tour matches.

For its part, Gol TV will televise the 2004 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup final between the Chicago Fire and Kansas City Wizards live in both English and Spanish at 7:30 p.m. from Kansas City’s Arrowhead Stadium Sept. 22. The network also reached an agreement with U.S. Soccer to televise the 2005 and 2006 U.S. Open Cup finals.

Efforts to revive the Women’s United Soccer Association -- the cable-centric, eight-team circuit that folded last September after completing its third season -- may have taken a hit. During a conference call Sept. 13 announcing tour dates, both Hamm and Foudy indicated that they would be involved in a resuscitated WUSA, but only in off-the-field capacities.

Hamm and Foudy, along with Lilly, Chastain and Fawcett -- collectively known as “the 91ers” for being members of the national team since that year -- are widely viewed as pioneers who fueled the explosion of participation in women’s soccer in this country and around the world.

WUSA revivalists, including Discovery Communications Inc. founder and league patriarch John Hendricks, are engaged in attempts to forge a business plan that would attract investors and sponsors into backing an initiative that calls for a small slate of games next year, before a full season would kick off in 2006.

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