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  • Thursday, June 22, 2000

    Canadian women on the rise

    By BOB McMAHON -- Winnipeg Sun

     Currently unbeaten in 15, the men's Canadian national team has garnered massive media attention but the women's national team is also showing progress.

     After failing to qualify from group action at the women's 1999 World Cup the Canadian Soccer Association hired Norwegian coach Even Pellerud to lead the program, the first time a foreign coach had been recruited for the women's national team.

     A second place finish at the recent Pacific Cup, including a win against 1999 runnersup China, shows promise for a squad that is nicely balanced with youth and experience. Six members of the 1999 Pan American Games under-19 squad have made the step up to the full team.

     The first Women's Gold Cup kicks off tomorrow with a format that mirrors the men's competition.

     Guest teams from Brazil and China will compete with the U.S., Canada, Trinidad & Tobago, Guatemala and Mexico in two groups of four, with the top two progressing to the knockout semifinals.

     The powerful U.S.A. squad is favoured and it looks like a case of who will be second, although they did lose to the Chinese at the Pacific Cup and only took the silverware by beating Canada and China on goal difference.

     Canada meets China, Guatemala and Mexico with their first game against Mexico scheduled for Saturday.

     Sportsnet is scheduled to cover the other two round-robin games live, Monday versus China and Wednesday against Guatemala.

     Charmaine Hooper, the most experienced Canadian player with 61 appearances, has been recalled. Hooper's last appearance was at the World Cup, during which she was critical of the Canadian Soccer Association and the coaching staff.

     Also included is 17-year-old striker Christine Sinclair of Burnaby B.C. Sinclair notched six goals at the Pacific Cup and has already scored nine goals in only 11 international appearances. The final goes July 3 at Foxboro Stadium near Boston.

     BIG MONEY DEALS

     The money just keeps growing. A three-season deal that starts in August 2001 will give the 20 English Premiership teams $1.4 billion per year, up from the previous take of $465 million. The tripling of revenue is sure to fuel player's salaries and transfer fees. This will up the ante for teams in the lower divisions and the television "carrot" will see to it that the wannabes will spend more in order to secure a place in the elite league.

     The big loser in the latest round of bidding was the BBC which lost the rights to broadcast highlights on Saturday evening as part of it's Match of the Day program that first went to air in 1964. The big winner, BSkyB, retained the rights to broadcast 66 live games on Sunday afternoons and Monday evenings. U.S. cable company NTL won the rights to broadcast 40 live games on a pay-for-view basis, a sure sign of things to come.

     In Scotland, Glasgow Rangers have agreed to a $75-M deal with NTL that will likely lead to the club setting up its own television channel. Archrival Celtic is set to sign a similar deal.

     Scottish fans around the world will be able to tune in to all their favourite teams games next year when the Scottish Premier League will offer live Web site commentary on every SPL game.

     Liverpool defender Dominic Matteo will be lining up for Scotland when World Cup qualifying kicks off this fall. Born in Scotland, Matteo played for England at the youth and B level through one of his parents, but is free to play for Scotland as he didn't play in a competitive international for his adopted country.



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