ESPN, ESPN2 and ABC Sports this week will finally take the wraps off coverage
plans for the 2003 Women’s World Cup.
With a SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) outbreak in China, FIFA
(Fédération Internationale de Football Association) officials decided to move
the event to the United States back in May, resulting in schedule juggling.
The trio of networks will televise 18 live matches and a pair of encores from
Sept. 21-Oct. 12. ESPN2 will carry 16 games, including a U.S. national team
opening-round match against Nigeria Thursday, Sept. 25.
ESPN only has one game, while ABC has three: the other two U.S. opening-round
matches and the final Oct. 12.
The schedule is a significant increase from the one-dozen matches the
networks said they would air early in 2002, when they announced a deal with
Anshutz Entertainment Group to present this year’s women’s tourney.
In the States, the 2003 World Cup moves into more viewer-friendly time slots,
but it faces steeper competition: Its predecessor in June and July of 1999
played largely against Major League Baseball action.