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Bonus pool grows to $1.12 million following World Cup triumph.

By Gary Davidson
SoccerTimes

LOS ANGELES (Tuesday, July 13, 1999) -- Bonus money for the United States women's soccer team grew to $1.12 million yesterday with the U.S. Olympic Committee throwing $120,000 into the pot.

The United States Soccer Federation had promised its players $250,000 if they won the Women's World Cup, which was accomplished Saturday by beating China in penalty kicks following a scoreless tie. On Sunday, the WWC Organizing Committee contributed $750,000 to the bonus pool.

"The players have been under contract to us for about three years and they've been paid to promote the tournament, but the amount of promotion they did has just been beyond what we could have ever expected," said WWC chief executive officer Marla Messing. "We felt they deserved some additional compensation for that.

The players will meet later to decide how to split the money. Nineteen players are eligible to accept bonuses -- defender Lorrie Fair can not if she is to maintain her eligibility to pay her senior year at University of North Carolina. The exact amount of the bonuses has not yet been determined since the players will likely vote full or partial shares to members of the team's traveling party.

The bonus money will exceed the player’ annual salaries, which range from $20,000 to $45,000, according to a U.S. Soccer official.

The additional money is fitting since the U.S. women bore the brunt of publicizing the tournament. While other participants were allowed to focus on their training and preparations, the Americans made countless appearances, and met with the media and fans daily.

"It's the World Cup and that has a lot of meaning, but playing it here in the United States, the home team is clearly critical to its success," Messing said. "They filled NFL-sized stadiums all over the country. They shouldered a large burden with this tournament. For other teams in the tournament, they came over here to play soccer. This team had to both play soccer and I think they felt a strong responsibility to promote the event, to promote soccer, to promote their team. And that pulled them in many different directions."

Because ticket sales exceeded even the organizers wildest dreams, Messing says there will be a profit though the tournament's goal was to break even. The surplus ill be given to the U.S. Soccer Foundation which was established to manage the 1994 men's World Cup surplus and annually delivers grants to organizations around the country.

"There will be a surplus from this tournament," Messing said. "I don't know how much it will be, but at the end of the day, to sell 650,000 tickets, we never anticipated that. We wanted to reach a break-even point. At that point, it would have been difficult to spend money as fast as the money was coming in.


The U.S. players, who will head to their homes tonight or tomorrow, were scheduled to have a six-week vacation before returning to train for the U.S. Women’s Cup to be played in the Midwest in early October.

Now, with U.S. Soccer, ABC\ESPN and Nike hoping to have the U.S. back in action by August. There is even talk of a prime time game on ABC.

The team will probably go back into residence camp in March for the 2000 Summer Olympics in Australia.


Australia is the only nation that has submitted a bid for the 2003 Women's World Cup. Those organizer have consulted with U.S. Soccer for their bid.

"This will be so difficult to replicate," U.S. Soccer secretary general Hank Steinbrecher said. "This is an incredible high. We caught lightning in a bottle. This was the reverse of Murphy's Law. Everything that could go right, went right. You could not have scripted thus any better."

Gary Davidson is managing editor and can be e-mailed at info@soccertimes.com.

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