Sunday’s setting could hardly have been more appropriate or fitting: at half-time in the top WPS clash between Washington Freedom and league leaders Los Angeles Sol, played in front of a full house at the Maryland SoccerPlex stadium, the club from the US capital inducted Steffi Jones into the Hall of Freedom. To mark the official induction, Washington Freedom President Mark Washo ceremonially presented the OC President, and relatives of deceased coaching legend David Vanole, with club jerseys.
"Steffi Jones helped shape Washington Freedom and women's football in the USA both with her class as a player, and her warmth and willingness to become involved as a person. We’re honoured to have her join the Hall of Freedom today," Washo said.
"At Washington Freedom, I learned that athletes are role models away from the field of play as well as on it, and need to become involved in areas such as solidarity and integration. I’ve always tried to meet my responsibilities, and I’m extremely honoured by this recognition," the OC President commented.
Jones is the third Washington Freedom player to be inducted into the Hall of Freedom, joining keeper Siri Mullinix and two-time FIFA World Player of the Year Mia Hamm. The OC President scored two goals in 38 appearances for the club between 2002 and 2003. She, Hamm and Mullinix were members of the 2003 championship-winning team.
The VIP guests at the Maryland SoccerPlex stadium included US national women’s coach Pia Sundhage, while reigning FIFA World Player of the Year and LA Sol captain Marta personally congratulated Steffi Jones on the field of play. TV station Fox Soccer Channel broadcast the match live in the USA. The OC President concludes her tour of the USA on Monday with a visit to the German ambassador in Washington, Dr. Klaus Scharioth.
Reaction to Steffi Jones' induction into the Washington Freedom Hall of Fame.
FIFA World Player of the Year Marta:
"As a player, Steffi Jones always gave me a headache, because she was almost impossible to beat in the tackle. As OC President, she’s making a huge contribution to the development of women’s football. Back in April, when I played for Brazil against Germany in Frankfurt, you sensed the Women’s World Cup approaching fast. The atmosphere generated by the 45,000 fans at the stadium was just unbelievable. We Brazilians are already looking forward to 2011."
USA striker Abby Wambach:
"I was privileged to play alongside Steffi for Washington Freedom. In my opinion, she’s one of the best players of all time. She absolutely deserves her place in the Hall of Fame. Steffi loves football, and I couldn’t possibly think of a better candidate for the job of OC President. The Women’s World Cup in 2011 will set new standards, and I’m already looking forward to tasting a little bit of the World Cup atmosphere when we play Germany in Augsburg on 29 October. Germany against the USA is the ultimate classic in women’s football."
USA coach Pia Sundhage:
"We still have to qualify, but we’re already looking forward to 2011. The friendly against Germany in Augsburg is an absolute highlight for the US women’s team on the road to the Women’s World Cup, because we need the match practice. I know Steffi, and I also know she’ll do everything needed to organise a fantastic festival of women’s football in 2011. Her induction into the Hall of Fame underlines her commitment to women’s football."
France international Sonia Bompastor:
"Steffi will ensure the Women’s World Cup is a gigantic success. The Hall of Fame accolade just goes to show what a fantastic ambassador she is for the women’s game. I’m determined to be there with France in 2011. Provided we qualify, we’ll be supported by lots of French fans in the German stadiums."