SBD/April 18, 2014/Leagues and Governing Bodies

National Women's Soccer League Eyes Stability, Viability As It Enters Second Season

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The NWSL is in the early stages of its second season, but its "long-term viability is uncertain," as women’s pro leagues in the U.S. "can’t draw fans, either at live events or on television, the way men’s leagues can," according to Juliet Macur of the N.Y. TIMES. Progress for women's pro leagues "always seems to be inch by inch, if there is progress at all." If there are "marked strides, they seem to be made on the back of a men’s league." The WNBA "would probably not exist without the help of the NBA." U.S. soccer players "are doing their best to succeed on an international level while pushing for the new league to catch on with fans." The U.S. women's squad has not won a FIFA World Cup since '99, but NWSL Washington Spirit and U.S. MF Yael Averbuch said, "It’s going to take much more than a World Cup win for this league to be successful." Spirit Owner Bill Lynch said that having 3,000 fans at every game "would 'really make the team sustainable' but that reaching the number might take three to five years." Macur notes the Spirit "had about 2,300 at their home opener last week." The U.S. Soccer Federation "has never been more invested in the success of a women’s pro league." Each team "is anchored by national team players whose salaries are paid by the federation." But the "lasting edge the league has -- or should have -- over men’s pro leagues is that the athletes can appeal to young female athletes in ways men never can" (N.Y. TIMES, 4/18).
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