Women's Pro Soccer: 3rd Time's The Charm?

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Will a proposed U.S. women's pro soccer league give fans something to cheer about? (Nam Y. Huh/AP)
Will a proposed U.S. women's pro soccer league give fans something to cheer about? (Nam Y. Huh/AP)

In a conference call on Wednesday afternoon, U.S. Soccer President Sunil Gulati announced a third attempt to establish a viable women's professional soccer league. The details were sketchy.

“There are gonna be a number of things today that we’re not prepared to finalize or confirm, in terms of stadium names or in terms of specifics of rosters and things like that,” Gulati told reporters. “Those things are happening at breakneck speed. They’ll be outlined over the days and weeks to come.”

Among the things Gulati hopes will happen at breakneck speed: the naming of the league and the designation of the specific venues where the teams will play.

What we did know as of Wednesday was that U.S. Soccer and the soccer federations of Canada and Mexico will help underwrite the new league by paying the salaries of at least some of the players from their national teams.

Gulati also said the league will begin play in April, with teams in Boston, Western New York, New Jersey, Chicago, Portland, Seattle, Kansas City, and Washington, D.C.

When one of the reporters on Wednesday's conference call asked why Los Angeles wouldn't have a team, President Gulati reached for a spectacularly weird comparison between himself and the commissioner of the most powerful and profitable sports operation in the country.

“I'm feeling much more like Roger Goodell now, having to answer why there’s no team in Los Angeles,” Gulati said.

Skeptics are bound to wonder why the new league would succeed, since two previous women's pro soccer leagues have failed.

They may also wonder at the absence of corporate sponsors during the conference call, and the absence of players, and the fact that the call transpired on the day before Thanksgiving, when even the President of the Mexican Soccer Federation was traveling and had to call in on a bad line from an airport.

Soccer fans who rooted for teams in the two failed leagues and for the phenomenon of professional women's soccer to thrive may be encouraged that another league is apparently in the works. But how likely is it that a league with no name, an incomplete list of venues and head coaches, no rosters, and so little apparent confidence in itself that it announces its launch on the day before Thanksgiving will be prepared to delight fans in less than six months?

This segment aired on November 24, 2012.

Bill Littlefield Host, Only A Game
Bill Littlefield was the host of Only A Game from 1993 until 2018.



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