a_soccer_ball.pngCrowds at San Francisco’s Civic Center loyally rooted for American and Japanese soccer players at a screening of the FIFA Women’s World Cup final as the game went into overtime shootouts.

Despite an American loss after regulation time play and 30 minutes overtime had the teams tied 2-2, Bay Area families and soccer fans came out in the thousands to celebrate and watch the live soccer game at a public event organized by San Francisco Recreation and Parks Department, with support from various public and private sponsors.

“It’s a great celebration of women’s soccer,” Recreation and Parks general manager Phil Ginsburg said.

Rec and Parks has organized screenings in previous years as well as for other World Cup games earlier this month, but the final game attracted the biggest crowd, which was estimated at 3,000 people, Ginsburg said.

“The crowd here is getting along nicely,” he said about the free, family-friendly event, which filled most of the plaza open area in the city center.

“It’s nice to see everyone come out to support women’s soccer,” San Francisco resident and high school soccer player Maria Calero, 22, said.

Calero’s favorite player is Abby Wambach, who scored Team USA’s second goal in the second half of regulation time–much to the excitement of the red-white-and-blue clad crowd in front of City Hall.

Though the crowd was predominately cheering for the American women, a few Japanese fans made their way to Civic Center, such as Yuki Mu, 50, and her husband.

The couple moved to San Francisco five years ago from Tokyo.

“Go Japan!” Mu said, adding, “I love USA, I love both.”

The World Cup tournament took place in Germany with today’s final match in Frankfurt, so the German Consulate General took this as “a good way to promote Germany” in the Bay Area, said Consul Michael Ahrens, as he passed out American flag thunder sticks and miniature soccer balls.

Another sponsor of the screening event, which included a bounce house, five-versus-five children’s soccer games and several booths and freebies, was America Scores–a group that works with underserved Bay Area youth and pairs soccer training and illiteracy.

“Girls can see, ‘Hey, it’s okay to play soccer,'” said associate director Emily Queliza. “Women are getting acknowledgement, finally.”

Sasha Lekach, Bay City News

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