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|| News Item: Posted 1999-07-21

Women's World Cup Report
By Anacleto Rapping, Los Angeles Times

There were five staff photographers credentialed to cover the Men's World Cup in 1994 and the same amount to cover the Women's World Cup 1999 soccer tournament. The big difference was in 1994 all 5 photographers knew that they would be covering games across the country all the way through the final game at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena. In 1999 we knew that only two photographers would travel and they would only cover the USA games as long as they stayed in the tournament.

Photo by Anacleto Rapping/Los Angeles Times

Photo by Anacleto Rapping/Los Angeles Times
Gina Ferazzi and I were originally assigned to follow the USA team. Almost a year ago we had separately started talking to our photo assignment editors, soccer writers and Sports editor about covering the Women's World Cup and getting credentialed. I became excited to think that maybe our Sports and Photo departments finally were as excited about soccer as I am. Two days before the first game in New York our photo editor was not sure if sending two shooters was one to many.

Gina and I arrived at the Meadowlands three hours before game time and realized that we needed to arrive earlier to get our preferred shooting spots on the field. The USA vs. Denmark was the first game of the WWC and the day. The stadium was sold out! It is incredible to be at any sold out sporting event but this was a little different. The sold out crowd here and at all the future USA games in Chicago, Boston, Palo Alto and Pasadena were here to mostly support the Women's USA team. In the Men's World Cup 1994 the crowds were just as big if not bigger but they were supporting teams from other countries as well as the USA team.

There were more women and children at this sporting event than I have ever seen. This game was historic because the first game of the WWC produced the largest crowd to ever watch a women's sporting event in the entire world. The crowds were ecstatic, the screaming girls were deafening and the painted faces were beautiful. The crowds really got into it.

When I left the final game at the Rose Bowl I felt the crowd was not as excited as they should have been during regulation time. But, watching a rebroadcast on TV my mind was changed. I could hear lots of chanting and screaming in the background. (Maybe I was concentrating so much on shooting the game that I blocked out much of the crowd noise.) The singing and chanting was not as constant as a Brazilian crowd or an English Premiere League game but for a USA crowd they held their own.

The World Cup was a great tournament to cover for a West Coast paper because all the USA games were on the East Coast which made all our deadlines easy to make. And we were both shooting with digital Canon cameras. The schedule of games every two to three days was not as demanding physically or emotionally as covering the Olympics.

Covering one or two games a day was fun for me, I am a soccer fan, coach, referee and player. So going to a game is almost pure joy. And watching the high caliber of women players from around the world was a real treat not only for me but also for all the young girls that had the same opportunity as me.

There has been so much talk about this tournament, the possibility of a women's professional league, the US goalie Briana Scurry cheating during the penalty kicks by stepping forward from her line in the final game and Brandi Chastain taking off her top and celebrating in her sports bra.

What excites me the most about this historic women's event is that my daughter and all the other young female soccer players have a role model to look up to and to aspire to become like on the soccer field. Maybe for some this is the most positive woman role model they will ever have in their life.

They, the young girls, may never become as recognizable for their sports achievements as these women have, but they will always know that the opportunity is there for them to reach their own personal goals.

It has been a wonderful week since the final game. I, along with fellow shooters at the LA Times, have anxiously looked at as many newspapers and magazines to see who got the shot of Chastain celebrating in those brief moments and how they did overall in covering the final event. All I can say is WOW! Each publication we looked at we were awed by the high level of skill and moments that were captured by all you sports shooters. I
thoroughly enjoyed shooting next to old friends and making new ones in the process. Other than getting " the moment " of the game on film, the experience of working side by side with some of the best sports shooters I have ever seen has got to be one of the biggest rushes ever.

Photo by Anacleto Rapping/Los Angeles Times

Photo by Anacleto Rapping/Los Angeles Times
Looking back at the final moments of that final game our plan was to make sure each of our four shooters at the game were covering different angles and aspects of the penalty kicks. My job was to photograph the players taking the shot while Kirk McKoy would cover as much as possible from an overhead position, Wally Skalij would cover the goalkeepers and Gina would cover reaction of players turning away from the goal back towards mid field.

We knew that no matter who won the game we would focus on the USA team. We would try to say it all in one photo if possible. The USA team had been the focus of our coverage from the beginning so we did not want to change that now .The plan worked great!

Our paper ran my photo of Chastain in her sports bra on her knees with her arms uplifted as the main photograph on page 1. There was not much objection to running the photo because it fit perfectly with the page 1 story by one of our seven writers covering the game. The front page of our sports section ran a photo of Scurry blocking one of the penalty kicks with another photo of Chastain whipping her jersey above her head.

In hindsight I wish we had one more photog to cover looking back at the shooter from the opposite side of the goal from me. But, you know us photographers, we always want "just one more picture."

(Anacleto Rapping is a staff photographer for the Los Angeles Times. He recently returned from assignment is South Africa.)

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