TV records set tone for raucous first week
Don't we all wish we were in Germany, among the face-painted fanatics, waving, cheering and experiencing the 2011 Women's World Cup fanfare firsthand? For those not in Deutschland, espnW will provide the full fan experience. Every Monday and Friday throughout the three-week tournament, The Kick will give you a multimedia overview of the tournament so you can feel like you're a part of history in the making.
Setting records left and right
The opening match between Germany and Canada set television records for women's soccer in the host country, drawing an average of 14.1 million viewers. That's almost 20 percent of the German population and 60 percent of those watching television while the game was going. The match achieved a peak-minute audience of 18 million, which means one in four Germans was watching the tail end of Sunday's game.
Germany wasn't the only country to have a record-high TV audience. Surprisingly, 1999 Women's World Cup runner-up, China, which didn't even qualify for this year's event, had nearly 2 million viewers tune in to Monday's Japan-New Zealand match. That big number surpasses Chinese viewership for significant matches from men's World Cups in 2010 in South Africa and 2006 in Germany.
Fans from the stands
Even though the opening-match ceremony was not televised, it doesn't mean you can't get what you wish for. Fans filmed "THE BEAUTIFUL SIDE OF 20ELEVEN" ceremony from the stands, giving those at home a peek into the 11-minute pregame show held in the Olympiastadion in Berlin. Fans have made short films of their experiences throughout the soccer festival:
The man behind the numbers
Ever wonder how the commentators and analysts know every possible statistic, record, standing and outcome? Someone out there cranks the numbers, researches the stories and brings the game to life. And that someone is Paul Carr, senior researcher for ESPN's coverage of the 2011 Women's World Cup. Carr is pictured here in the truck during the Japan-New Zealand game, providing the facts that make us all experts at home.
We need more of this guy
Despite its unfortunate background of scandal, the lowest-ranked team, Equatorial Guinea at No. 61, debuted with a strong showing in its first Women's World Cup on Wednesday. Outshooting Norway in a 1-0 loss, Equatorial Guinea certainly gave this one animated fan something to react to.
"Mask or not, she has great vision"
Many thought Christine Sinclair would sit out Thursday's game because trainers would not allow her to take the field until she no longer felt pain from her broken nose. True to her nature, she's back out there ... wearing a mask. Thursday's game was do or die, and with a 4-0 loss to France, Canada is out of the running. Regardless, Sinclair and her country showed the world that women's soccer is not for pushovers. One American fan made a site just for Sinclair-isms.
France's fantastic night
The 4-0 win by France over Canada was the team's biggest Women's World Cup victory, and the highest-scoring game of the tournament thus far. France became the first team to qualify for the knockout stage in the 2011 WWC.
Ineedawinner1 tweeted: "French women redeeming the national pride squandered by the bickering men last summer in South Africa."
Futbolr tweeted: "I think the football world just fell for France's Futbolistas. Beautiful football! 4-0 victory over Canada. Cup contenders no doubt."
Alendaboczek tweeted: "France is demolishing Canada at the #FIFA Women's World Cup. Still a great game to watch!"
Fatielo tweeted: "France are the only team who have yet to concede a single shot on target at the 2011 Women's World Cup."
KelsCoffey tweeted: "Where the heck did that French team come from? The Germany-France game is gonna be fun to watch!"
Behind the scenes, literally
Sure you've seen Bob Ley, Brandi, Tony and Bri overlooking the beautiful Dresden cityscape, but here's a literal behind-the-scenes view of an interview with Rachel Buehler and Lauren Cheney, the two American goal scorers from Tuesday's victory over North Korea.
A little birdie said Gasparrrrr tweeted: "hooked on the #WWC.. those ladies got skill"