Two tied for lead in 'Media Cup Challenge' as Cup Headquarters readies for Sunday's final

COLUMBUS, Ohio - Heading into Sunday's Italy-France World Cup Final, Carol Merry from Fahlgren Mortine, The Crew's PR agency, and WBNS-10TV Sports Producer Mutungwa Maleek Ndile, are tied first place in the "2006 Media Cup Challenge" with 45 points. The "Media Cup Challenge" is a NCAA tournament-style bracket pool for the 2006 FIFA World Cup in Germany.

There were 45 entries submitted, with 25 of the 45 participants picking World Cup favorite Brazil to win. Only four people picked Italy to win and no one picked France to win the month-long tournament. Neither Merry nor Ndile picked Italy. Out of the four participants who picked Italy, Crew General Manager Mark McCullers has the highest point total at 41, meaning an Italy win would give McCullers the crown. If Italy loses in the final, Merry and Ndile will tie for the title. The other three participants who picked Italy to win were Joe Weasel (NBC 4), Peter Hirdt (Elias Sports Bureau) and Dave Stephany (Crew).

Crew Stadium's "Cup Headquarters" is gearing up for Sunday's Final, with ABC coverage starting at 1:30 p.m. Gates will open at 1 p.m. More than 1,000 fans attended all three U.S. matches at Crew Stadium and over 9,000 have attended the first 23 days and 63 matches at "Cup Headquarters."

Crew Stadium is once again serving as "Cup Headquarters" and is hosting viewing parties for all 64 games of the World Cup in Germany that will be televised live on ABC, ESPN and ESPN2.

Admission to "Cup Headquarters" is free and complimentary snacks and Pepsi products will be provided. Budweiser product will be available for purchase, including tournament specials. In addition to juicy Bob Evans bratwursts being available for just $1 throughout the entire tournament, Best Buy will also provide TVs for the event. The games will be shown in the Stadium Club tent located just west of the stadium, via Time Warner Cable service.

Prizes will be given away daily, including a grand prize from Time Warner Cable. The grand prize is a free one-year package from Time Warner Cable that includes Basic, Standard and Premier Digital Cable service, including one digital set-top terminal and remote, the monthly Channel Guide, the MLS Direct Kick Digital Sports Package, residential Road Runner High Speed Online service, Digital Phone service with unlimited calling anywhere in the U.S. and Canada and standard installation, a value of up to $1,800. Winners must live in an area serviceable by Time Warner Cable, Mid-Ohio Division, and be 18 years or older. Other restrictions may apply. The Crew will have a complete list of rules on site. Visitors to "Cup Headquarters" can register once per day. The grand prize will be given away at halftime of the World Cup Final on July 9.

Time Warner Cable will also give away five MLS Direct Kick Digital Sports Packages, with free upgrade connection on one TV, throughout the tournament. Winners must be 18 years or older and current subscribers to Time Warner Digital Cable, Mid-Ohio Division. Other restrictions may apply. Budweiser, an official 2006 FIFA World Cup partner, will also be giving away prizes during the viewing parties. U.S. Soccer merchandise will be available for purchase at the U.S. games.

The World Cup began on June 9 and runs through the July 9 final. The World Cup is the most anticipated and watched sporting event in the world. Thirty-two nations qualify for the World Cup Finals, which are held every four years, and they are drawn into eight groups of four. The top two teams in each group, after a three-game round-robin, advance to the Round of 16, which begins the knockout phase of the competition.

Below are the complete "Media Cup Challenge" standings heading into the finals.


1.   Carol Merry, Fahlgren Mortine      45
     Mutungwa Ndile, WBNS 10TV          45
3.   Todd Bradley, 1460 The Fan         42
     Ray Hancart, Fahlgren Mortine      42
5.   Mark McCullers, Crew GM            41
6.   Joe Weasel, NBC 4                  40
     Peter Hirdt, Elias Sports Bureau   40
8.   Bill McDermott, Crew TV            38
     Mark Lincir, 90 Minutes            38
10.  David Rosenblun, Out2              36
     Larry Larson, 610 WTVN             36
12.  Ken Hirdt, Elias Sports Bureau     34
13.  Dave Stephany, Crew                33
     Scott Whaley, Crew                 33
15.  Jeff Wuerth, Crew                  32
     Stacie Raterman, WCOL              32
     Ron Wuerth, Crew stats             32
18.  Matt McCoy, 610 WTVN               31
     Bob Stein, AP                      31
20.  Walt Wheeler,       30
     Rich Fidler,   30
     Jim Henderson, Crew radio          30
     Deanna Reiss, MLS                  30
24.  Scott Kelly, WBNS 10TV             29
     Dwight Burgess, Crew TV/Radio      29
26.  Jay Saunders, WBNS 10TV            28
27.  Shane Murphy,       27
     Katie Witham, Crew TV/Radio        27
     Shawn Mitchell, Col. Dispatch      27
     George Zonders, 610 WTVN           27
31.  Frank Fraas, NABCO                 26
     Dave Heasley, Lantern              26
     Matt Sigafoos, FSN Pittsburgh      26
     Chuck Strickler, WBNS 10TV         26
     Scott Tann,         26
     Lee Smith,          26
37.  Greg Seltzer, Yanks Abroad         25
38.  Corey Smith, Metro Sports          24
     Jerod Smalley, NBC 4               24
     Shawn McClintock, FSN Pittsburgh   24
41.  John Kuhn,              23
42.  Anthony Rothman, NewsCenter        22
43.  Smitty, Radio U                    21
44.  Chad Schroeder, Crew               20
45.  Matt Weibe, USL                    13