The events of the summer of 1999 left a lasting legacy. Even the Sydney Olympics in 2000 when the United States fell to Norway 3-2 in a thriller of a match, and subsequent World Cups in 2003 and 2007 were not as memorable as ‘99. Team USA’s gold medals in Athens and Beijing did not receive widespread acclaim, nor did their victories achieve the status of having historical and social importance as the victory in 1999. The popularity of the sport had fueled talk of starting a women’s league even prior to the final match, but the United States win in the final propelled the formation of a professional league into a reality. “The 1999 Women’s World Cup…created a springboard for the Women’s United Soccer Association, which billed itself as the world’s only fully professional women’s soccer league.” WUSA came and went, folding prior to the 2003 World Cup. Even with the disappearance of WUSA and the advent of a new women’s professional league, Women’s Professional Soccer in March 2009, the impact of the 1999 World Cup has not been diminished. In many ways, the success of the ’99 World Cup trumped what many thought was possible in the world of women’s sports and created a template for success in the future.
Furthermore, the Brandi Chastain sports bra incident and her subsequent posing in Gear magazine 1999 raised issues surrounding gender politics in women’s sports. It exposed a new side of women’s sports, one in which beauty and sexiness matter, and may even trump the importance of athletic talent.
It certainly was an epic event that seemed to be impossible to measure up to. It will be interesting to see if the 2011 World Cup in Germany can achieve the same success as ’99. The fact that the World Cup is being held in Europe and hosted by the country that won the last two consecutive World Cups could potentially hinder its popularity in the United States. We will have to wait until Summer 2011, but until then we can at least watch the WPS gain momentum and give women’s soccer in the United States the attention it deserves.
Will the US Women’s National Soccer Team still be “The Greatest Team You’ve Never Heard Of” in 2011?
 Michael Hiestand and Oscar Dixon, “Unlike WUSA, WNBA has NBA,” USA Today, 16 September 2003, Sports, p. 03c.
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