Field day for women
12.02.30: AMERICA, the tournament favourites, arrive in County Tyrone today for football's inaugural Women's World Cup, which begins this week in Ireland.
Twenty-four countries are taking part, an estimated three billion viewers are expected to watch and most venues are already sold out.
"This competition could have happened 10 or 12 years ago," said June Freuler, head of Wifa (Women's International Football Association), "but we were determined not to rush it and to wait until the money was right."
With a E$1.2bn worldwide television deal, Wifa projects a E$700m profit from its first World Cup. On the field, players in the all-powerful US team say they are not worried by their rivals, but they are sure to have noticed England's recent run of results and the outstanding form of striker Saffron Owen, daughter of Michael, the former Liverpool, Inter-Milan and England super-striker.
Saffron hopes to emulate her father, who made his sensational World Cup debut 32 years ago. But she aims, unlike him, to lift the cup at the first attempt. DW