It has been a roller coaster ride during the first two years of the most recent incarnation of Womens professional soccer in the United States. There have been significant “ups” like the signing of Marta, the building of a new stadium in Georgia and the significant partnership contributions from Puma, Amway and others. There have also been some extreme disappointments, including the folding of two franchises, the shuttering of much of the administrative departments, stagnant attendance and more.
Yet despite the bumpy road, the recent announcement of a new expansion franchise of Western New York and the completion of a second successful campaign seemed to suggest that WPS was moving along slowly but comfortably in its American sports niche.
However, over the last couple of days there have been rumblings that two more WPS franchises are close to folding after missing their October payment to the league. The two teams, Washington and defending champion FC Gold Pride include prominent players (including Marta). The reports are conflicting, but a press release from the Freedom somewhat clarified matters by indicating that no announcement is immediate and that the team is actively seeking investors.
In our interviews with professional female soccer players, there has been a significant amount of hope vested in WPS and it would be unforunate if the league crashed after year two. WPS set modest attendance goals and has been close to meeting those in both years. The stadium construction and continuing expansion suggest that there is a future in Women’s soccer in the USA. However, without a relationship with MLS (see WNBA/NBA), WPS franchises are left to go it alone, often without significant advertising support.
We’ll conclude with quote from our Summer interview with USWT defender Ali Krieger, who plays professionally in Germany but hopes to return to the US.
Krieger indicated that Womens’ Soccer gets “way more advertising” in Germany…”billboards and things are always up around the cities, so I think there is more coverage there”. She continued, “I think it is a huge deal, because the more people that come out and get interested in the game they are going to tell their friends and family to come out and enjoy the game. There are different age groups that you have to target and I don’t know if we are targeting every one of them. We need more advertising and commercials to get different age groups out…right now we are targeting the younger age groups and their parents…In Germany you have older guys and their dogs coming to the game as well.”