U.S. Soccer Renews WPS’s Division 1 Status
Added by Steven Farkas on December 13, 2011.
Late Monday night the United States Soccer Federation announced its board of directors agreed to renew division one status to Women’s Professional Soccer. After a week of silence following the December 6th presentation by WPS CEO Jennifer O’Sullivan, USSF spokesperson Neil Buethe made the announcement for the federation.
Buethe stated, “After a positive discussion, the U.S. Soccer Board of Directors approved a plan to sanction WPS as a Division 1 professional league in 2012, subject to certain conditions. Once the Board receives confirmation from WPS that all five teams agree to those conditions, U.S. Soccer will issue a formal announcement.”
Part of the requirement for sanctioning is that by the year 2013, WPS must have a minimum of six teams to continue to maintain their D1 status. That had been the stated reason for the USSF holding off on making a decision regarding sanctioning for the WPS in 2012, but it appears U.S. Soccer has decided not to kill the fledgling league just yet and give it one more year to meet requirements laid out by the USSF for D1 sanctioning.
This announcement is huge for the success of the WPS since, had the USSF decided not to give the league D1 status it would not have been able to continue to recruit top women’s soccer players like Marta, Abby Wambauch, and Sky Blue’s newly signed attacker Manon Melis.
Now, the league must agree to the requirements laid out by the USSF. Once that is done, then the sanctioning impasse will be over and the young league will have survived the off-season of turmoil and come out still alive. While WPS stated it would not have a comment Monday night, it would move quickly to adopt the new sanctioning under the requirements that the USSF has placed into the agreement.
The WPS has previously stated, and used as its argument for the waiver to keep its D1 sanctioning that there is interest from investors in expanding the league. A possibility for up to three west coast teams as well as teams in Connecticut and Long Island have been mentioned as coming into the league by 2013. That would give the league ten teams, more than needed to continue as a USSF sanctioned Division One league under the current waiver agreement. Let’s hope the talk of expansion turns into a reality. There are a lot of young girls and women counting on the survival of the WPS to keep their dream of becoming a professional athlete from dying along with it.