With the FIFA Women’s World Cup barely in the rear view mirror and the London Olympics just on the horizon, women’s soccer has been enjoying quite a prolific year. Unfortunately the women’s game in back in the headlines this week with the ending of the Women’s Professional Soccer league. The league announced on Friday that the league’s five remaining owners had officially decided to put an end to the three year league.
The professional league had suspended operations this past January as they underwent legal issues with Dan Borislow, owner of the South Florida team magicJack. It appears that the league has settled their lengthy legal issues with Borislow after he sued the WPS when he was ousted from the league last summer. It was a dark stain on women’s soccer though there were hopes at the time the league would be able to regroup after a one year hiatus. All hopes of the resurrection of the WPS in 2013 have now been officially squashed with the announcement from the owners this week.
”We sincerely regret having to take this course of action,” T. Fitz Johnson, owner of the Atlanta Beat and chairman of the board of governors, said in a statement Friday.
“We are proud of what WPS has accomplished, having attracted the highest quality players in the world to play in the best women’s league, as well as the progress women’s soccer has enjoyed over the past three years,” added Thomas Hofstetter, CEO and president of Sky Blue FC.
Before there was the WPS there was the WUSA which also came to an end after only a three year run due to lack of financial support. The WUSA was formed after the victorious 1999 World Cup which became the spring board for the formation of the league.
Though the US Women’s National Team failed to capture the world cup last summer in Germany, viewership and popularity of the sport has soared over the past several months. Hope Solo became a household name and the smiling faces of the American team could be found glossing various magazines and television sets. With this summer’s Olympic games just a few months away, women’s soccer has another great opportunity to bring even more fans into the fold.
What happens after the Olympics however is unclear. When the WPS suspended play in January it left a lot of soccer players looking for new venues in order to keep pursuing their dreams. While the USWNT players are preoccupied with London, those not on the team are bouncing around the semi-pro leagues such as the WPSL Elite League or the W-League. These players are being paid meager salaries and enduring grueling travel purely out of their love and devotion to the game.
No doubt it will take a lot of organization and financial backing in order to provide a league that can succeed and withstand similar hurdles that the previous decade has brought to the professional sport. Hopefully those placed in charge of spearheading the effort will be ready for the challenges that lie ahead and have the passion for the sport to endure the expected bumps along the way. After the Olympics there will be an international void in women’s soccer with the world cup not coming back around until 2015. Let’s hope we don’t have to wait that long in order to watch them play.