Soccer Prinzess

TERRY JONES -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 10:05 AM ET

She's the 'Prinzess' of women's soccer, the heir to the title of Greatest Women's Soccer Player in the World.

For years, most people on the planet could probably tell you that the No. 1 women's footballer was Mia Hamm of the USA.

But Birgit Prinz of Germany took over as 'FIFA World Player Of The Year' with Zinedine Zidane of France when Germany won the World Cup of women's soccer in 2003. Last year Prinz won the honour again to join Ronaldinho at the FIFA awards.

Tomorrow Prinz will lead the defending World Cup champions at Commonwealth Stadium, something the Canadian Soccer Association hasn't managed to market in their pathetic attempt to promote the 2 p.m. fixture.

"She's a standout,'' said coach Even Pellerud as his northern girls arrived here yesterday, shaking his head at the idea most Edmonton fans don't have a clue about soccer's new heroine.

"Birgit Prinz is a better striker than Mia Hamm ever was. She's not only great as a striker, it's her attitude, the way she chased back. She doesn't stand around and watch. She's the complete player.''

Canada's longtime superstar Charmaine Hooper says there's no comparison. "They are completely different players. Birgit is a strong physical player. And she's like a shark. She swims around looking for opportunities.''

Every chance to play against Prinz is something special, says Kara Lang. "She's so strong on the ball. She's a force. Her touch is amazing. It's like a clinic watching her play.''

WON'T INVEST A DIME

And you won't invest a dime to sell that?

Incredible organization, the CSA.

They have the 2004 World Cup champions, the 2005 European champions plus the world's greatest female soccer player here where Christine Sinclair, Lang and the gang drew 47,784 to Commonwealth Stadium for the final of the inaugural FIFA U-19 World's Women's Championships and drew 160,197 for the games here, an event FIFA boss Sepp Blatter called "ballistic.''

Two years ago the Canadian women, in their going-away game before heading to the Women's World Cup where they finished fourth, drew 29,593 for a joyous 8-0 drubbing of Mexico.

We haven't seen them since! It's been 734 days! And when they do return to town, to play the World Cup champions featuring the world's greatest female soccer player, the CSA tries to keep it a secret?

GIRLS OF SUMMER

Still, they'll draw three or four times the 4,315 in Vancouver's Swangard Stadium Thursday where the Germans out-scored Canada 3-1. But the fans will be coming to watch the Canadian team. These are Edmonton's Girls of Summer and they have a warm spot in the hearts of fans here - as midweek pre-sale ticket totals of more than 10,000 would indicate.

But the point is, it's the visitors, particularly Prinzess Birgit, who should be selling the tickets this time. Just the fact Canada has convinced Germany to play these games is something the CSA should be trumpeting. It's a shame after the success stories here that the CSA was never able to bring Hamm and that great American team to town. Now they've brought Hamm's successor and the world champions to town. And then they don't try to sell it?

Prinz, who won the Golden Boot and Golden Ball as top scorer and MVP at the last World Cup, isn't much into selling herself.

"I don't like being called that,'' she said of the world's best title. "You can never say who is the best player. There is no best player. There are many very good players.''

Prinz is proud of playing her part as part of a team to put women's soccer on the map in an area where men's soccer is a religion and the women's game has been ignored. "Because of the World Cup, women's soccer has been much more accepted. It was only the people involved and nobody else before that. Now we have much more TV, media and sponsorship.''

She says she'd never want somebody to buy a ticket just to watch her.

"It's not very interesting to just watch me. I hope people come to watch the teams.''


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