Australia women's soccer team in the nude

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CANBERRA, Australia--Remember all the fuss last summer when Brandi Chastain of the U.S. women's soccer team whipped off her jersey to reveal a Nike sports bra after she booted in the winning goal against Brazil in the World Cup? Australian soccer players are going quite a few steps further.

Strictly in the interest of reminding the public that Australian soccer players have their feminine side too, the Matildas Australian Women's Soccer Team next week launches its first all-nude calendar, complete with full frontal group shots in sexy poses.

"Ultimately, we decided to do this to raise the profile of women's soccer and to dispel that myth that it is not a feminine sport," says Australian Women's Soccer CEO Warren Fisher.

That and $16.20 for each of the 30,000 calendars to be distributed in time for Christmas shoppers. For every calendar sold, the 12 Matildas team members who posed for the calendar will share in 65 cents in royalties.

"We asked the girls to volunteer and we were lucky to have 12 come forward. Some of the poses are extroverted; others are more subtle. We wanted to have each shot reflect the personality of the player.''

Mr. Fisher hopes the calendar will raise the Matildas' profile and potentially lead to a lucrative sponsorship deal to the tune of $500,000.

However, Max Markson, a celebrity manager who helped launch the Jane Flemming Golden Girls calendars in the early 1990s, argues that full frontal nudity will scare off potential sponsors.

"Our calendars were sexy, but we didn't have any full frontal or naughty bits on show. The commercial reality is that when a model poses nude in Playboy or Penthouse, she never gets commercial endorsements," says Mr. Markson. "This will generate a lot of publicity for the Matildas, but it is a crowded market now and full frontal nudity borders on soft porn.''

More than 140,000 Golden Girl calendars were sold in 1994 and 1995.

The idea of nude sports stars was followed up in 1996 when art magazine Black + White published its Atlanta Dream issue, featuring Australian Olympians such as Samantha Riley and Dean Capabianco in the nude.

Copyright December 1999, Crain Communications Inc.

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