Womens Soccer League Folds
What a shame, Im sure this will crush many little girls dreams..... I hope they can rebound from this somehow and rebuild for all the future Mia Haam's out there...
WUSA folds, with Cup days away
Women’s soccer league says doesn’t have money for 4th year
ATLANTA, Sept. 15 — The cash-strapped WUSA called it quits Monday just five days before the Women’s World Cup, bringing an abrupt end to a soccer league built on the success of the 1999 tournament.
THE DECISION WAS made by the league’s board of governors at a meeting in New York.
The eight-team WUSA was filled with the world’s best female players, including U.S. stars Mia Hamm, Brandi Chastain and Julie Foudy. Chastain provided the signature moment in the ’99 tournament when she ripped off her shirt after scoring the championship-winning goal against China.
But the attention the Women’s World Cup received faded over the years, leaving the WUSA foundering. TV ratings were almost nonexistent and the league had trouble finding fans who weren’t under 18 and play on a soccer team. Average attendance slipped from more than 8,000 the first season to about 6,700 a game last season.
The WUSA hoped another World Cup this fall would bring last-minute corporate sponsorships to save the league, but that hasn’t happened, said John Hendricks, chairman of the WUSA board of governors.
Hendricks blamed weak corporate support for the league’s failure.
“I was intoxicated by what I witnessed in 1999, and I mistakenly believed that level of support would flow over into the league,” Hendricks said.
The WUSA’s owners have invested more than $100 million to fund the league, and some of the top players took pay cuts this season to help keep it afloat. Even after cutting costs, the league was about $16 million in the red.
Hendricks said the league needed eight sponsors to spend $2.5 million each per year. The WUSA recruited only two sponsors willing to spend that much, Hyundai and Johnson & Johnson.
“If we only had six or seven CEOs in America that had stepped forward in the past year,” Hendricks said. “An independent women’s professional league can survive — if it has corporate support.”
The league conceded the timing of the announcement was awkward but said the WUSA had to consider all its employees and players who aren’t in the World Cup.
“We couldn’t keep the doors open even another 24 hours without jeopardizing a decent and fair severance package for our employees,” Hendricks said.
The league employed 375 people, including players, and had franchises in Boston, Atlanta, San Diego, Washington, New York, San Jose, North Carolina and Philadelphia. The Washington Freedom won the title last month.
The Women’s World Cup begins Saturday in Philadelphia, and the U.S. team opens the next day against Sweden in Washington, D.C. Fifty-six WUSA players are to compete, representing 11 of 16 countries in the tournament.
WUSA players took an active role in the league’s management and were involved in the decision to close the league.
“The impact of the WUSA on women’s sports and millions of fans has been extraordinary,” said Foudy, captain of the San Diego Spirit and U.S. team, and a member of the WUSA board of governors.
The league will not dissolve entirely until next spring, Hendricks said.
“There is a glimmer of hope that a few months down the road the phone will ring” from a deep-pockets sponsor, Hendricks said.
The folding of the WUSA leaves Major League Soccer as the sport’s only top-level professional league in the United States.
“Although we are disappointed by today’s action, we believe this decision has no impact on the future viability of the sport of soccer in the United States,” MLS commissioner Don Garber said. “Major League Soccer continues to be encouraged and excited about the explosion of youth participation in the sport, as well as the Hispanic and international opportunities which present themselves daily. We continue to focus on building stadiums, developing players and expanding our footprint across the United States.”
© 2003 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Come back EVENTUALLY Cappy!! Ok this clearly was written back in a day when I still had faith..