A new women’s professional soccer league will begin play next year. But this time, in the hope of avoiding the financial mistakes that doomed two previous attempts, the league will receive significant backing from the soccer federations of the U.S., Canada and Mexico.
The federations will fund the salaries of national team members playing in the eight-team league. The U.S. has agreed to fund up to 24 players – three per team. That’s eight more than Canada, while the Mexican federation has committed to pay the salaries of 12 players.
"We are trying to find an economical model that is sustainable," said U.S. Soccer President Sunil Gulati, whose office will also finance the administrative costs of the league. "If we see the federations as the government, we are subsidizing the private sector here to try to make this sustainable and the investments by the private sector smaller."
The arrangement will also ensure players from the three countries are playing regular competitive soccer between now and the next major international tournament for women, the 2015 World Cup in Canada.
"Across the board, the best way long-term to develop players is in a league format where they are challenged every day," Gulati said.
The league will begin play in the spring and be national in scope, although no teams will be based in California. The eight areas awarded franchises are Boston, New Jersey, Western New York, Washington, D.C, Chicago, Kansas City, Seattle and Portland.
Women's Professional Soccer, the most recent top-tier women’s league in the U.S., folded in January after three seasons, and a previous attempt, the Women's United Soccer Assn., played three seasons before disbanding in 2003.