The day after U.S. soccer fans celebrated the women’s CONCACAF win and their Olympic qualification comes word that the WPS is on ice for the 2012 season.
Word began to filter out via players and bloggers on social networks like Twitter Monday morning, and the league officially made the announcement midday. “The league’s Board of Governors voted Monday to suspend the season with hopes of resuming in 2013, the WPS announced.”
WPS CEO Jennifer O’Sullivan says owners chose to cancel the season over possibly working with Borislow in the league again. She says “we have diverted so many resources into litigation.”
The news was subsequently delivered to WPS players in an email. Though the league cited ongoing legal proceedings with renegade owner Borislow, it may be that he is more of a convenient scapegoat than anything else.
Borislow bought the Washington Freedom last winter and relocated the franchise to Boca Raton, Fla., renaming it magicJack after his internet telecommunications product.
He signed many of the top players in the world, including U.S. Women’s National Team stars Abby Wambach, Christie Rampone and Hope Solo, but feuded constantly with former WPS CEO Anne-Marie Eileraas and other league officials about his refusal to advertise, maintain a staff and other basic league mandates, incurring repeated fines and other penalties. Wambach has been a vocal supporter of Borislow and didn’t sign with another WPS team after MagicJack was booted from the league last October.
The real reason for the league’s suspension is probably their inability to find enough sponsors or work out a coherent schedule with the Olympics and USWNT.
The announcement sucks on all kinds of levels. All the draftees, excited to play professionally and expecting to come in and fight for a roster spot, learn two weeks later their careers are on hold. Hopefully they find new homes in the W-League, Sweden, Germany, and elsewhere.
It’s really hard to fathom how this could happen after the amazing Women’s World Cup last summer and all the great play we’ve seen in the past six months.
In an interview on her reality TV debut for The Big Time, player Alex Morgan had this to say about what the WPS could have done better:
“More TV rights, more advertising. Letting the U.S. know that we have a women’s soccer league. We have one of the best leagues in the world. We want to show people that we are playing games in their backyards…”
While soccer fans still have the Olympics to look forward to – and the USWNT is looking good heading into the summer – the inability of the league to operate successfully is a step in the wrong direction.
The league has played three seasons – let’s hope they come back in 2013.
How can this happen after the amazing WWC2011