WOMEN'S PROFESSIONAL SOCCER STARTS IN 2009 IN UNITED STATES
By Paul Levitan
Women’s Professional Soccer (WPS), formed in 2007, again will give young women worldwide a chance to play professional football. The first season is scheduled to start in April 2009. The game known as football in most of the world is called soccer in the United States.
The football league has notable investors, including two-time National Basketball Association most valuable player Steve Nash and former Yahoo chief operating officer Jeff Mallett.
"I am really excited to play a role in bringing professional women’s soccer to North America,” Nash said. “As a father of twin girls, I’m especially pleased to help young women around the world realize that their dreams of being a pro soccer player can indeed come true.”
Seven teams will compete in the 2009 season. The teams will be located in the San Francisco Bay area, Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, New Jersey, St. Louis and Washington. In 2010, the WPS plans to expand to Philadelphia, Atlanta and Dallas.
Twenty-one players, many from the Olympic gold medal-winning U.S. national women’s team, were assigned to the seven WPS teams on September 15. Players include such stars as Abby Wambach, Hope Solo, Heather Mitts and Carli Lloyd.
Each team received three players, with consideration given for players’ current homes and the former WUSA teams for which they played.
A draft that will put two top international stars on each team will take place at the end of September. A general draft of other U.S. and international players will take place October 5 through the beginning of 2009.
Each season will have 20 matches, followed by playoffs involving the top four teams. Two All-Star Games — one in the middle of the season and the other after the season concludes — also will be played.
The WPS recognizes its American roots. Its logo features a silhouette of Mia Hamm, who is one of the best players ever. Hamm is the all-time leading scorer among both men and women in international football, having scored 158 goals for the U.S. national team. Hamm was a leading player in WUSA and helped popularize women’s football in the United States and abroad.
“I am extremely honored and humbled to personify the WPS brand, knowing full well that this league will be revered by generations of soccer fans around the world,” said Hamm. “Above all else, this league represents opportunity — not just for female soccer players, but for women everywhere.”
September 19, 2008
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