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Archive for November 24, 2021

Nov. 24, 2021 — It’s making sense, now

It was in early 2020, right at the start of the global pandemic, that a number of prominent American women’s soccer players decided to leave their National Women’s Soccer League clubs and go off to European clubs like Barcelona, Chelsea, Manchester United, and Paris-St. Germain.

Over the last few months, however, one of the big reasons for the exodus has been exposed. A culture of disrespect and abuse of professional players, making an average of about $33,000 a year, has led to a diminishing of not only the league, but of the performance of the U.S. women’s soccer team.

I cannot help but posit that the USA’s third-place performance at the Tokyo Olympics is a consequence of the abusive environment, which was aided and abetted by certain owners of NWSL teams, and the United States Soccer Federation, which had a major ownership state in the league when it launched in 2013.

Just this week, Rory Dames, the head coach of the second-place Chicago Red Stars, resigned under a cloud of suspicion regarding his behavior towards his players.

This means that, since the start of the 2021 season, nine out of the 10 head coaches in the league resigned for one reason or another. Six of them left under fire from their own players for abusive or coercive behavior.

That is a remarkably poor record for any professional league, in any sport.

As the NWSL becomes the first USSF Division I women’s pro soccer league to surpass 10 teams, there are still existential questions about the league and the various entities surrounding it. There is open revolt against the ownership of the league’s most popular team (Portland) as well as the current league champion (Washington). There are also questions going right up to the top levels of U.S. Soccer — the kinds of questions which are reserved for a Watergate-type investigation.

I don’t think this is going to go well for the people who run women’s soccer in America.