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Culture

Women's Soccer Team Germany's New Darlings

Still giddy from their semifinal victory over World Cup favorites the United States, the German women's soccer team is gearing up to face Sweden in their first World Cup final in eight years.

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Hoping for the miracle from Carson: Germany's striker Brigit Prinz.

No matter what happens when the women's national team takes on Sweden in the World Cup final in the U.S. this Sunday, the German women are guaranteed a party.

The city of Frankfurt announced Thursday that the Römerplatz, where the men's national soccer team celebrated a raucous homecoming after their second place showing in the 2002 World Cup, would be made available for the women as well. The honor is a sign of the excitement beginning to spread in Germany for the upcoming game.

"Our new football darlings: they've already played themselves into our hearts, on Sunday they could write themselves into the history books with their first World Cup championship," wrote the mass daily Bild this week.

Skipping the men's game for the women's

The head of the German Soccer Association (DFB) Gerhard Mayer-Vorfelder decided to skip an important European Cup qualifying match for the men's team on Saturday and will instead fly to Carson, California, to watch the women live. Men's team coach Rudi Völler sent a congratulatory letter to his female counterpart Tina Theune-Mayer.


"I hope you do it better on Sunday than we did a year ago," said Völler, referring to his team's 2-0 loss in the World Cup final to Brazil.

The quality of this year's world cup has opened many eyes, chief among them FIFA president Joseph Blatter. Blatter said he was "pleasantly surprised" by the level of play he saw in the women's matches and said FIFA should consider awarding financial bonuses to the winners, like they do for the men's world cup.

"We should look into that," Blatter said. "If we want to give women the same attention, then we need to also think about bonuses."

Another bonus the DFB is considering would be more obvious to the fans of women's soccer. If the women win the title on Sunday, DFB President Mayer-Vorfelder said they should get their own jersey with one star. Up to now the female eleven have been donning the men's uniforms with three stars for three world cups.

Prinz now German soccer royalty

Newspapers are devoting more ink than in recent memory to the women's national team. Major weeklies and television stations have done profiles on top women's players, including international star Birgit Prinz.


The striker, runner up to Mia Hamm in FIFA Female Soccer Player of the Year voting this year, has tallied seven goals in the World Cup so far. The number ensures her the goal-scorer's title and solidifies her standing as one of the best women's players around.

"I'm honored, but in the end the team is what's important," said Prinz. "It doesn't matter at all, which of us shoots the goals. What makes us stand out is that we work as a team."

Favorable final matchup

Their teamwork and a fluid passing game stymied the hometown favorite U.S. women's team, the World Cup defending champions, last Sunday. Continuous charges towards the German goal were regularly blocked by goalie Silke Rottenberg, and the German women countered with a fluid short passing game. They scored a goal in the 15th minute with a head shot from Prinz, then added two more after regulation time expired. Going into the final against Sweden on Sunday, the German team stands a good chance of coming out on top. In the match-ups it has had with Sweden so far, the Germans have performed well. The last major game against the Swedes was the European Cup in 2001. Germany dispatched Sweden 3-1 in the opening match and then beat them 1-0 to win the final.

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