Nothing sums up the USA's disastrous exit from the Women's World Cup better than the fact they requested an early kick-off for a quarter-final they're not even playing in. As the quarters got underway on Friday, many were left wondering why the first clash between Spain and Netherlands kicked off in New Zealand at 1pm (11am AEST).
The simple answer is American broadcasters Fox Sports requested the early fixture to accommodate the US TV audience. 1pm in New Zealand is 6pm on the west coast of America and 9pm on the east coast.
The Americans were so sure they would make the quarter-finals that they convinced World Cup organisers to schedule the fixture for their fans back home. The only problem is they didn't make it.
The USA probably had every right to be cocky considering they were back-to-back World Cup champions and going for a three-peat. But their campaign ended in disastrous fashion when they were knocked out in the round of 16 in a penalty shootout against Sweden.
Instead of the USA it was the Netherlands and Spain playing on Friday, in what will also be disastrous for TV ratings in America. Fox Sports recently paid a whopping $425 million for the rights to host a number of FIFA tournaments, including the Women's World Cup and Men’s World Cup in 2016, which will take place in the USA, Canada and Mexico.
The game in Wellington still drew a massive crowd of Spanish and Dutch fans, but many would have been expecting to see the American team. Reporter Michael McCarthy summed up the USA's shock exit by saying: “What makes matters worse is that if the favoured USWNT had won their group stage as expected, their games would have aired in ratings-friendly prime-time windows in the U.S.
"Instead, Team USA went out early with a whimper. All Fox can do is dream about what might have been if the favoured USWNT had pulled off a historic three-peat.”
Last month, Fox Sports chief executive Eric Shank said the US team were based in New Zealand for the World Cup to take advantage of the friendlier time zone. “I think that’s a big reason why FIFA realised that it’s probably better for the US national team to be based in New Zealand,” Shanks said.
“One of the reasons probably is that time zone’s much more friendly to the U.S. So we’ll have the early games while they’re in New Zealand starting at like 9pm Eastern. And then it kinda gets a little bit all over the place - they’re either gonna be prime-time games or fairly earlier in the morning.”
USA's arrogance backfires spectacularly at Women's World Cup
The Americans have been widely condemned around the football world after their arrogance backfired spectacularly. A pre-tournament ad has been brought back to light after it trumpeted the might of the USWNT team and questioned how any other team could topple them.
The Fox Sports commercial begins with the line: “The whole world is wondering, what’s it going to take to stop this US team?” A man in a leather jacket with the colours of the Italian flag on his binoculars ponders: "Maybe we can steal their plays".
Their loss in the round of 16 marked the US team's earliest ever exit from a Women's World Cup. "I'm very proud of them and devastated for them that we have to go out the way that we did," coach Vlatko Andonovski said.
"I thought we deserved a lot more. We deserved to win this game. We created enough to win this game. We put up a fight, a battle, we represented this country proudly and showed what we stand for. We did everything right."
Well isn’t this hilarious now? pic.twitter.com/jfeHhe0V9R
— Ahmed Yussuf (@ahmedyussuf10) August 6, 2023
Women's World Cup quarter-finals:
* all times AEST
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