Talk of France ...

After the excitement of France's 4-0 win over South Korea at the Parc des Princes, the Women's World Cup was brought down to earth on Saturday. The three games on Day 2 combined drew less than the sellout crowd of 45,261 for the tournament opener. But what had everyone in French soccer buzzing was the television audience for France-South Korea: 9.8 million on TF1 and 826,000 on Canal+. And this number below the top line was the mind-blower: 65 percent of all children 4-14 watching French television tuned into the match. TF1 and Canal+ pumped up the Women's World Cup with pre-tournament programming, but French federation president Noel Le Graet credited unexpectedly heavy media coverage for piquing interest. American media have noted minimal Women's World Cup signage on billboards, but kiosks were dotted with covers of magazines trumpeting Les Bleues. Twenty years ago, France Football had me do its preview for USA 1999 -- a two-page spread with mini-profiles of 11 players. On Tuesday, it published a 56-page guide -- its entire regular edition -- to the tournament. -- Paul Kennedy
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