US to try third women’s soccer league
CHICAGO (AP) — Another American women’s football league will try to succeed where two previous attempts have failed.
The currently unnamed eight-team league will launch in the spring, U.S. Soccer announced on Wednesday. The clubs will be in Boston, Chicago, Kansas City, New Jersey, Portland, Seattle, western New York and Washington.
The sport has repeatedly shown it can draw large numbers of American fans in the stands and on TV for the World Cup and Olympics, but women’s football has yet to find a foothold as a pro sport in the U.S.
WUSA folded in 2003 after three seasons, failing to capitalize on the success of the 1999 Women’s World Cup. More recently, Women’s Professional Soccer folded this year, also after three seasons.
With a vested interest in ensuring national team players have somewhere to play in the years leading up to the 2015 Women’s World Cup, U.S. Soccer is stepping in this time to seek to create a viable economic model. The teams will still be privately owned, but the federation will pay for the salaries of 24 national team players.
U.S. Soccer also will fund the league’s front offices.
“We are subsidizing the private sector here to try to make it sustainable, to try to make the investments necessary by the private sector smaller,” U.S. Soccer President Sunil Gulati said on a conference call.
The Canadian and Mexican federations also will pay the salaries of some of their players, with the same goal of ensuring their national teams are well-prepared for the World Cup. That means each club won’t have to spend on salaries for up to seven players.
“We won’t start off with the sort of deficits that we started the last two leagues with,” Boston Breakers managing partner Michael Stoller.
The league will try to save money compared with the WPS in other ways, as well. Gulati said teams might sign fewer elite international players. Clubs will play in smaller stadiums to lower operating costs and do less marketing.
“What we need is a sustainable model: Less hype, better performance,” Gulati said. “The hype will come if we have the performance.”