U.S. Soccer announced on Nov. 21 that another professional women’s soccer league will be starting up in the New Year.
The organization said the league will consist of eight teams and will kick off in the spring of 2013. There will be franchises in Washington D.C., Western New York, Chicago, Boston, Kansas City, Seattle, New Jersey and Portland, but so far there isn’t a name for the league.
While women’s soccer is extremely popular in America at the Olympic and World Cup levels, it has failed to catch on with fans at the league level. There have been two previous attempts at women’s pro leagues, but they both folded. The WUSA ran for three years and ended operations in 2003, while Women’s Professional Soccer also ran for three seasons and folded earlier this year.
The league is being launched so American national team members have a place to play before the next World Cup gets underway in 2015. It was reported that the franchises will be privately owned and the U.S. soccer federation will be paying the wages of the 24 American national team members as well funding the offices of the new league.
In addition, some national team players from Mexico (12) and Canada (16) will also have their salaries paid for by their respective soccer federations. The league will try to cut down on expenses by cutting down on marketing and are planning on playing in smaller soccer stadiums as the operating costs are lower.
The plan is to cut down on the hype and offer better performances on the field. It’s believed that some players will be semi-pro as they may work or go to school, and this will reduce costs as well.
U.S. Soccer realizes that if there isn’t a league available for its national team members to play in then it will be hard for them to compete with the best nations at the next World Cup. T
he federation said it will make sure that the league and the national team don’t step on each others toes and will schedule both of them accordingly. The organization said it already has a national sponsor in place and will be looking for a television broadcasting deal for the league.
If all goes according to plan, the league will kick off in March or April of 2013 and will wind up in September or October. The franchises will be releasing the names of their teams and logos in the coming weeks.
With U.S. soccer being involved in the new venture it has the best chance of succeeding where the other two women’s leagues failed. However, if this league also folds it will certainly be hard to convince anybody else to try and start a fourth league in the future.
This could be seen as a do-or-die situation for women’s soccer in the U.S. and the league wants to make sure it takes the time to do everything right. It still has a lot of details to sort out to make sure it’s sustainable.
The league will start off with a 22-game schedule and it announced that just eight teams of 11 that applied were accepted. It’s possible that the league could expand in the future, with Canada being the most likely destination.