One day every four years, Dupont Circle transforms into a prime destination to watch World Cup soccer matches on large outdoor screens. Last summer, thousands gathered for the showing of the U.S.-Germany game from Brazil. Four years earlier, fans packed the park to watch the U.S.-England showdown in South Africa.
The next World Cup is not until 2018 in Russia. Organizer Aaron DeNu does not want to wait.
With the Women’s World Cup kicking off next month in Canada, DeNu is seeking to continue Dupont’s soccer tradition and start a new one with the first viewing party for the female competition.
DeNu told the Insider on Wednesday that he has reached agreement with the Swedish Embassy and the National Park Service to show the U.S.-Sweden match on June 12, a Friday night. He still needs to secure the broadcast rights, however. Time is running short.
“I think we will get it,” said DeNu, 36, a founding member of the Dupont Festival, which puts on cultural events at the park inside the circle. “The broadcast rights are the hard part, but I believe we’ll be there on June 12.”
Securing the women’s TV rights from FIFA, soccer’s international governing body, were not as straight forward as with the men’s competition. FIFA provides an online form to apply for the men’s rights, but when DeNu pursued the Women’s World Cup project, he couldn’t find anything on the organization’s website.
With assistance from the U.S. Soccer Federation and Fox Sports, which owns the U.S. TV rights, DeNu said he has made substantial progress in recent weeks. Fox was so enthusiastic, the outlet said it might send a broadcast truck to Washington for live shots from the fanfest.
The plan first took root over the winter when DeNu was invited to speak to the European Union’s cultural meeting in Washington. The topic was the use of public space in the city. More than two-dozen representatives from member states attended. The Swedish delegation said it would be interested in working with him. He mentioned the Women’s World Cup. A week or so later, he met with embassy officials. They made plans for the embassy to sponsor a Nordic jazz festival in late June and a children’s theater presentation in August.
They also discussed the Women’s World Cup party June 12, when the United States and Sweden clash in Winnipeg. Swedish officials were willing to cover the cost of the rights fee ($1,000), video screens, speakers, generators, insurance and security.
In 2010, the South African Embassy helped defray costs. Last summer, DeNu forged a partnership with the Germany Embassy.
This summer, the emphasis is on women, and not just because of the World Cup. On June 20, the Dupont Festival will show “A League of Their Own,” the 1992 film based on the true story of an all-female baseball league during World War II.
The soccer party would feature the U.S. team, ranked No. 2 in the world behind Germany, playing the second of its three Group D matches. The Americans were runners-up four years ago in Germany and haven’t won the title since 1999. Sweden is ranked fifth by FIFA. Kickoff is scheduled for 8 p.m. ET.
“People still talk about 2010 and 2014,” said DeNu, a former Wilmington (Ohio) College player whose full-time job is executive director of a group forming a business district in the 14th and U Street corridor. “I’m passionate about creatively using public space and the parks to showcase the city. The soccer has been a blast and I’m hoping it can continue.”
Video from last summer: