WPS, magicJack, settle on semi-return

Jeff Kassouf January 19, 2012 23
Dan Borislow in Washington Freedom gear

Dan Borislow wearing Washington Freedom gear on May 1, 2011 against the Philadelphia Independence. (Photo Credit: ISI Photos)

The saga continues. On Wednesday, magicJack owner Dan Borislow agreed to drop hist lawsuit seeking a temporary injunction to reinstate the team into Women’s Professional Soccer. You didn’t think it was that simple, did you?

The stipulations include magicJack’s semi-return to WPS. The team won’t actually be part of WPS, but it will play seven or eight exhibition games for each of the next two years. Two of those games each season will be at Florida Atlantic University, Borislow confirmed via email on Wednesday.

At a minimum – according to Borislow – U.S. national team stars Abby Wambach, Hope Solo, Christie Rampone and Megan Rapinoe will continue to play with magicJack, at least in 2012. If true that solves the mystery of where some U.S. players will play next season.

UPDATE: Hope Solo said via Twitter to magicJack’s unofficial, fan-run Twitter account that she has not made any commitments. Borislow’s response on Thursday morning read, “I have both commitments and signed contracts,” but he did not specify which players the contracts were for.

The big question is whether or not Wednesday’s news is a first step at reinstating Borislow and magicJack back into WPS, which needs a sixth team. WPS officials did not immediately respond to requests for comments. Borislow said he is not willing to speculate on that.

“I do not want to speculate, right now it is a very positive development for soccer and the WPS,” Borislow said Wednesday via email.

In short, the good to come from this is that WPS walks on for 2012. That has been said before, but the league looked in jeapordy after last week’s favorable ruling for magicJack. WPS stated that it woud rather fold the league than bring back magicJack.

The bad is that the circus continues. The only attention WPS has gotten from mainstream media in the past year surrounded its public and childish dispute with Borislow. Now WPS will have to spend the next two years explaining to media, fans and anybody who cares that magicJack has some of the best players in the world and the team is competing against WPS teams, but is not actually a part of the league. Good luck wrapping someone’s head around that one.

  • Anna

    What do you make of Hope Solo tweeting at the MagicJack account that she’s made no commitments yet?

    • Jeff Kassouf

      It’s very interesting…

  • Nickp

    Bad day for wps

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  • John F

    FIFA and US Soccer are going to be okay with Wambach and Solo playing for a non-WPS team? I guess magicjack would still be considered a division 1 team even though they’re not part of the league? It may work this year because some of these vets don’t want to play a full wps season because of the Olympics, but in 2013, I hope to see these players playing in a full season and in the playoffs. At least I’ll get to see a couple WPS games this year in south Florida!

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  • Gerry Marrone

    Jeff – this is a bad move IMO – but one I understand from the owners perspective. However, every report is saying that the four players are playing on the team – does anyone actually know that for sure? I see Abby and Hope – but Christie?? Are you sure? Christie brought in her guy last year – Mike Lyons – who didn’t last. Then Abby was running the show as has been previously reported everywhere. I think it would be better if no one took anything Dan Borislaw said publicly as gospel until it is confirmed. Other questions I would ask – who covers the Workers Comp on the players on mJ? If they aren’t part of WPS will they need to get their own policy? That is one expensive proposition for a professional sports team – the current teams carry the first $250K of claims/losses. Is the team sanctioned in any way? What is USSF’s stance on this arrangement – if it was going to be hard for national team players to play on teams that aren’t Div 1 as was also previously reported – how does this work? And finally – how will the five current WPS teams approach the “scrimmages” with mJ? would you risk injury to your players if you were the coach? The games could wind up being playing time for the bottom of your roster against all the stars of mJ – not necessarily the most entertaining product. ANd after the Olympics why would you even entertain playing this team when you need to focus on the league? The list could go on and on…..

    • Jeff Kassouf

      Gerry, these are all excellent points. When somebody starts talking, I’ll get some answers. For now, there is not much talking. I updated the post with Hope Solo’s tweet and Dan Borislow’s response. I asked for clarification of Borislow’s response – whether that meant all four players had signed or some had made only verbal commitments – and I was told that the question was already answered. Thus, we’ll continue to wonder for now. And if I’m a WPS team, there is no way I risk injuries to star players against magicJack. Then again, I’m sure they are all itching to beat that team to make a point for WPS.

      • Gerry Marrone

        Jeff – I know you are trying and no one is talking. IMO WPS is making a HUGE mistake by not being front and center on this topic and controlling the message, instead of having it controlled for them. They made a deal – tell everyone what it is, what impact it has, why you did it and move on. Continued murkiness DOES NOT help sell tickets, sponsorships or build good will. Being a fan now I can clearly see how frustrating it is to try to support the league.

        • necron99

          Gerry – Further questions. Hitchon the Player’s Union head said she supports it. Will the MJ players eligible to be in the Union? If you play your subs against MJ to protect your star players, and your team loses, aren’t you diluting the WPS image? Obviously the barnstorming game is about bringing asses to seats when the fans come to see their USWNT favorites on the MJ team, if you don’t play your stars they are let down by not seeing the USWNT players on the WPS roster.

          I think the deal is still to be fully worked out. That is why Dan suspended his lawsuit but didn’t formally settle it. They are working out the true details, and once they have them the case will be settled, and theoretically we get a press release with more info.

  • Strange. (Sigh)

  • MrTuktoyaktuk

    With a team outside of league oversight, expect continued and unrelenting mischief from magicDan.

    IMO to offset some of the two-headed baby-ness of this, the league should schedule some exhibition matches with W-League or even some foreign teams.

  • Even if this wasn’t a great and informative post on its own merits, it was worth reading just for the accompanying photo and priceless caption.

  • Lisa F

    As a SFL resident and a diehard soccer fan, (especially of the magicJack) I couldn’t be happier of this news! Yes the situation is quite unorthodox, however WPS is not the most organized league. I think Dan Borislow is only human, and he has the opportunity to redeem himself. Borislow is an EXTREMELY wealthy man, I think he will do whatever he needs to monetarily to protect his players that do sign.
    In the end though, fans just want to see great soccer games, and I speak for many SFL fans that any re-in statement of the magicJack franchise would be welcomed. No one can deny that ticket sales were ever down for this team. If they ever are officially re-instated it would only be a good thing for WPS, especially with driving in revenue.

  • RICK JAMES

    The whole thing sounds like a Zen riddle ,scratching my head.

    • bit of a puzzle maybe, but this whole weird relationship drama has never been zen.

  • PASoccerdad

    tHIS IS HORRIBLE FOR wps THAT WERE ADAMANT ABOUT NOT WORKING WITH THIS CLOWN

    I understand this is a trial to allow MJ back into the league (THis is what he wants). I am told that there are rules and he has to hire a GM and REAL coach in order to play WPS teams.

    there are many stipulations to the agreement being finalized but we may end up with him back fully in the league to cause havoc off the field next year

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  • RICK JAMES

    I didnt say the whole situation is like Zen, i said ‘Zen riddle ‘, big difference.

    Zen riddles are puzzles,only much more difficult to figure out.

    • yup, I got it, thank you, i was just playing off the term “zen”.

  • Hey Jeff-

    Was this kind of an off-the-books settlement meeting between WPS and MJ?

    Because it seems hard to believe that this would have been the outcome of an actual court judgement, or even an arbitration hearing.
    It seems strange to me that a business partnership, especially a franchise one like this, wouldn’t have the right to vote out one of its non-majority members.
    (ie. that one member could just strongarm/blackmail the others into being stuck with them for life.)
    I find it hard to believe that there isn’t a legal recourse, even in the arbitration stage, for how to divorce from a business partnership.

    Seems like there probably is…but WPS was maybe trying to avoid the hassle/expense, and buy itself time perhaps.

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  • Jen

    Money talks I guess… These players aren’t earning millions of dollars a year like their counterpart males. If MagicJack is paying the right price then these players will obviously stay regardless of whether the team is apart of the league or not.