It is old news already. And it will probably continue to be old news. Women’s Professional Soccer (WPS) is done. It is hard, even as a former WPS player, to understand all of the complicated details and reasons behind the demise of the league.
We are all upset. I was heartbroken when I saw the news was posted on Facebook. Do not get me started on that. It is not like a press officer was being paid to put out an official press release on the WPS website.
But dwelling on it will not get us anywhere. We cannot put blame on anyone, but we can look for solutions. And a viable plan to create a new sustainable and successful professional league in the states.
WPS may not exist anymore, but that doesn’t mean that women’s professional soccer is gone. There are still amazing and talented players playing right in your backyard. It is up to true football fans to recognize this and still support the best football that is in the states right now.
Women’s professional soccer (wps) may not be the brand name that Women’s Professional Soccer (WPS) once was. But through everyone’s effort we can make it something bigger.
Fact: At about $500,000 annually, one the highest salaries in the 2011 WPS season belonged to Marta, the best player in the world. This amount was barely above the NFL minimum and about 20-times the WPS average.
Fact: That same salary, was almost double the rest of her 2011 teammates’ salaries combined.
Fact: The average 2011 WPS season salary was about $25,000.
Fact: The lowest 2011 WPS season salaries consisted of $200 a game contracts. If the player even stepped onto the field. Maximum salary possible was $4200 (18 regular season games and three playoff games = 21 games X $200 = $4200).
My Opinion: Business is business. But the unnecessary overspending on certain salaries could have been the demise of the league. And the underspending on lesser known players created a lot of questions about the team budgets and a lot of resentment from these players.
I knew it ever since I stepped on the field as a professional. Women’s professional soccer in the United States would always struggle to be successful. But I never thought my career would hit a wall like the one it did about a month and a half ago.
At the end of January, everything was good to go. I was signed with one of the five WPS teams. My offseason training was optimal, and I was feeling ready to go. Suddenly out of nowhere, an email was sent from the WPS Union President. WPS was ceasing operations.
The two weeks after this email, I was an emotional roller coaster. For a few days, while I tried to get my head around the situation, I played the blame game. My family and friends did not understand what happened, so they questioned my career. They asked if playing was really still worth it. Once I realized there was no use to figuring out why it happened, I nervously weighed my options.
Unlike some players, retiring just because there was no WPS, was not an option. I had been training hard this past offseason, in preparation to compete in the best league in the world. I wasn’t going to let that go to waste. I never even gave myself the choice to stop playing.
Mostly everyone working for WPS, whether it was for a team or the front office, no longer had jobs. Some had given up high paying jobs somewhere else, just to work for WPS, because it was their passion.
A few of my friends and former teammates entered the “real” world for numerous reasons. The money W-League and WPSL teams were offering weren’t enough. Or they didn’t want to try out the experience abroad.
The players that were looking abroad, were left in the dust. With WPS folding the time that it did, European clubs already had their allotted foreign players signed or no money was left for the club to give to American players.
Agents were slammed with new client requests. The pool of available American players grew exponentially. Talented and amazing players were stuck with nothing but to wait.
During this time, I felt like that every day that passed was another missed opportunity to find a team to play for. Luckily with the help of my own personal connections and my agent, I signed with a team overseas. When I sent in my contract, it was a huge load off of my shoulders.
Professional soccer is not as glamorous as people think it is. Yes there is glory and satisfaction with getting paid to play the game you love. And of course the attention from fans and the media.
I would not trade my experiences playing professionally for anything in the world. My gratitude for the talents and opportunities God has placed in my life outweighs any doubt I had ever had about playing because of what I have gone through.
But it is time to share the dark side. The three years that I have played professionally and the four years I have played semi-professionally, my teammates and I have dealt with corruption-filled drama, greedy backstabbing, and gluttonous egos.
This is not just about the ball.