Disney Nets Kick Around Women's Cup


FIFA (Fédération Internationale de Football Association), soccer's
international governing body, Monday awarded the 2003 Women's World Cup to the
United States, which is replacing China as the host nation for the quadrennial
event in the wake of the SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) outbreak in
that nation.

But it will be several weeks before ESPN, ESPN2 and ABC release the TV
schedule for the event, which should provide an exposure assist to the
cable-centric Women's United Soccer Association, now in its third season.

The success of the 1999 Women's World Cup, also held in the United States,
spawned the distaff soccer circuit's kickoff in 2001.

Through a deal with Anschutz Entertainment Group, those networks are slated
to televise the 2003 World Cup.

But FIFA and U.S. Soccer, which is spearheading the upcoming Cup, have yet to
determine the venue lineup and actual schedule listings, although the latter is
expected to mirror the original Sept. 23-Oct. 11 match card as much as

Previously, The Walt Disney Co. networks said they planned to air about
one-dozen of the 2003 Cup matches, many in overnight or morning windows.

The networks' situation is now complicated by having the competition in this
nation's time zones, as well as by extant contractual commitments, including
high-rated American professional- and college-football fare. Those and other
factors must be juggled against showing the popular U.S. Women's national team
in action, according to an ESPN spokesman.

"Our goal is to accommodate as many matches as possible, given our other
programming commitments," he said.