City Football Group could bring NWSL team to New York

Jeff Kassouf June 9, 2016 141
NYCFC at Yankee Stadium, where there is barely room for a soccer field, nevermind an NWSL team. (Photo: NYCFC)

NYCFC at Yankee Stadium, where there is barely room for a soccer field, nevermind an NWSL team. (Photo: NYCFC)

New York City FC could “potentially” start a women’s professional soccer team, according to the chairman of City Football Group, which owns NYCFC.

Khaldoon Al Mubarak said in an interview with Manchester City FC TV that the recent successes of Melbourne City Women, which in their expansion 2015-16 season went unbeaten en route to winning Australia’s Westfield W-League, could spark further investment from CFP in the women’s game.

“The decision for us as a group to get into women’s football, to invest in women’s football, has really, I think, proven to be a success,” Al Mubarak said. “It’s been a great success in Melbourne and it’s going to be a success in Manchester, and I think you’ll see us doing that potentially in New York at some point. And in any club we’re involved in.”

[THE LOWDOWN: Taking stock of NWSL at the FIFA break]

City Football Group owns Major League Soccer’s New York City FC, which is in its second season of competition. NYCFC plays at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx, a temporary home with no foreseeable alternative in the near future; it’s nearly impossible to see another team playing at the venue, but there are smaller stadiums throughout the New York area.

City Football Group also owns the Melbourne City FC men’s and women’s teams, in addition to Manchester City FC men’s and women’s teams in England and a men’s team, Yokohama F Marinos, in Japan. Al Mubarak said in the City TV interview that the acquisition of more clubs could be on the horizon.

As The Equalizer reported earlier this year, a women’s team in New York City looks like a matter of “when, not if.”

Sky Blue FC is the closest thing the NWSL has to a New York metro-area team. The club plays home games at Yurcak Field on the campus of Rutgers University in Piscataway, N.J. and averages 1,699 fans through three games this season, last in the league. Sky Blue FC has ranked last in attendance all three full seasons thus far in NWSL history.

Representatives from Sky Blue FC had informal discussions with New York City FC in the fall of 2014, but nothing came of them. In the fall of 2013, Sky Blue owners rejected the opportunity to merge with MLS’ New York Red Bulls.

“You have to look at Sky Blue as a very small organization,” Sky Blue owner and CEO Thomas Hofstetter said in November 2013. “Red Bull (is) a big, global corporation. They have their other goals and priorities. I don’t mean this in a bad way. At the end of the day we just didn’t feel that from a business perspective, the deal that we were discussing, could get on the same page. It was mainly business driven.”

[CURREN ON U.S. WOMEN: Ellis’ Olympic lineup seems to be set]

NWSL commissioner Jeff Plush stated earlier this year that he is in touch with as many as a dozen potential expansion cities, all at varying stages of talks, and that about half of those are MLS ownership groups. Plush declined to comment on these developments. An NWSL spokesman told The Equalizer: “We are pleased with the current level of interest and ongoing discussion regarding potential expansion teams. We are in talks with more than a dozen potential ownership groups, who are at various stages, but it would be premature to discuss in further detail.”

MLS interest in the NWSL is on the rise. Three of the NWSL’s current 10 teams — Houston Dash, Orlando Pride and Portland Thorns FC — share ownership, facilities and staffing with the city’s MLS club. MLS commissioner Don Garber said in April that, “I think you’ll see, very soon, half of our clubs launching and managing women’s teams.”

Real Salt Lake owner Dell Loy Hansen has previously been public about his desire to add a women’s team to the club, but has not recently commented on the topic. Many around NWSL believed that Real Salt Lake would enter the league in 2016. Instead, the Orlando Pride accelerated plans to do so — partly based on the success of the 2015 Women’s World Cup and partly based on the ability to acquire star U.S. forward Alex Morgan — and is the lone NWSL expansion team in 2016, bringing the league to 10 teams.

Real Salt Lake Women currently play in the second-division UWS (United Women’s Soccer) league after eight seasons in the WPSL, formerly as Salt Lake United and Sparta Salt Lake. they have played under the Real Salt Lake Women name — and RSL badge — since 2013, winning a WPSL Elite League title last season. They are associated with RSL by name, but the exact level of crossover is unclear.

“We couldn’t be happier for Real Salt Lake Women to carry the RSL banner into women’s soccer,” Hansen said in 2013. “One of our core values is to promote the game at all levels in Utah and our association with RSL Women will help us do that.”

[MORE: MLS commissioner Garber thinks half of MLS teams will have women’s teams]

Hansen said at other points over the past two years that part of the idea for a women’s professional team would be predicated on a soccer-specific stadium to host NWSL and USL games. Real Monarchs play in the USL. But plans for that stadium have changed after failed bid, with a downsized version of it now part of a bigger plan focused on a training facility. An prospective NWSL team could still play at the 20,000-seat Rio Tinto Stadium, home to Real Salt Lake.

Reports this week also vaguely hint that NWSL could be a possibility in the future for FC Dallas, another MLS club. But much like with RSL, the prospects remain unclear for turning a women’s amateur team playing under the club’s name into a fully professional, multi-million dollar operation.

“We do think an NWSL franchise, there’s some validity to that and should be a target for us,” said FC Dallas Women’s coach Ben Waldrum, whose father, Randy, is the coach of the NWSL’s Houston Dash. “But it hasn’t been like the Hunt Sports Group has come out to us and said, ‘We want this team.’ I think they want to support women’s soccer and continue to monitor and see how the league goes.

“I don’t think there’s anything set in stone that, ‘Your attendance has to be this’ or ‘You have to be this successful in your WPSL league.’ I think the biggest message for the local soccer community from our end would be, if you want to see a team be here in the future it obviously makes sense for FC Dallas to do it, and we want you guys to get out and show our ownership that women’s soccer is viable and we can support it in this area.”

The Dash and FC Dallas Women played a friendly last weekend.

  • AlexH

    I can’t see this working until City gets a stadium of its own. But when they do I think it has a good chance of working.

    • Steglitz49

      Man City bulit a stadium for their ladies; Man Utd closed their women’s teamdown. That is the way the cookie crumbles. Just wear the right kit; the make of the sportsbra is optional.

      • MurderOnZidanesFloor

        More fool Manchester United. They trained up Izzy Christiansen through their youth set up so that she could be player of the season for Manchester City last season. Now this year another Manchester United product Katie Zelem is scoring goals for Liverpool Ladies. Surely they could at least have an adult women’s team even if they weren’t going to back it the way Chelsea and Manchester City have been recently?

        • Steglitz49

          Chelsea were going the same way as Man Utd but John Terry stepped in and rescued the ladies.

          Man Utd closing down their women’s team was controversial at the time. Thus, they are not likely to crawl to the cross in a hurry. No John Terry in that team.

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  • Gary Diver

    Believe it or not category: there is a Wikipedia article on NWSL expansion! New York City isn’t mentioned. Isn’t “some time in the future” perfectly indefinite?

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/

    • My2cents

      Yeah it sounds indefinite to me. What if the Red Bulls decide to pursue Sky Blue again. Should that happen, It would probably be a long time down the road then for the New York City would have a chance to get a team, especially if there other more suitable locations for expansion. It certainly is interesting how the discussions about more MLS involvement has been increasing.

      • Steglitz49

        Red Bull HQ in Austria nixed that deal. Red Bull supports a BroSo in Austria but no WoSo. Enough typed. Dream on.

        • guest

          Please read the above article. It clearly states that Sky Blue’s ownership killed the deal and not Red Bull.

  • Gary Diver

    Where does City Football Group’s money come from?

    • Steglitz49

      Man City belongs to Ethiad who belongs to one of the United Arab Emirates from where that great ref of WC-94 hails!

    • brdn08

      The man who owns it is the Prime Minister of UAE. His family pretty much runs the entire country. He’s a multi-billionaire.

      • Gary Diver

        I wish I had that kind of money to do good things in the world.

        • Steglitz49

          You could start with obstetric fistula surgery as in the worldwide fistula fund — wwf for short.

          • Steg World

            Start by changing mores of African men who feel the need to have sex with 13 yr olds.

          • Steglitz49

            That prevention is better than cure, is a well known maxim and well understood.

          • guest

            Actually, you could start by drilling wells so they have water to drink.

          • Steglitz49

            The point about education, not least educating the girls and young women, was stronger, I thought. If you educate the women, you raise their status and you raise the whole community.

            Educating the men about not marrying girls but wait for them to be mature women. Providing the diet so that they can grow to full development. This is all part of the picture.

            Apart from the Hamlins in Ethiopia — Catherine Hamlin is still alive at about 90 — and Lewis Wall in Niger, there are other groups who are tackling this whole issue. But they need not only financing but the support to make the local country governments spend on women’s healthcare.

            It is all preventable, which is the sad bit seeing that most of these countries have been independent for 50 years or so.

            Education, education, education.

          • Ubu-Roi

            What makes one despair is the emergence and metastasis of Boko Haram and ISIS.

          • Steglitz49

            Boko Haram are active in a region where there is one of the highest incidences of obstetric fistula.

            If a foundation like the Bill & Melinda Gates would support fighting obstetric fistula the problem would get wiped out because the condition can both be repaired and also, more important, be prevented. It is all preventable.

    • Guest
      • Steglitz49

        Don’t ever forget that 1994 referee because he showed the way!

  • The “WPSL Elite League title” was them winning one match by trouncing a second-rate WPSL team – http://www.ksl.com/?sid=35767186&nid=857&title=smith-phillips-lead-rsl-women-to-rout-in-wpsl-elite-title-match . You will look in vain for any other WPSL Elite League matches in 2015.

    • Steglitz49

      If Man City are serious, they will do the needful.

  • kernel_thai

    If a deal could be worked out to transfer ownership of SkyBlue to NYCFC then the league should encourage the Dash to try and work out a deal to move Carli Lloyd to NY. Much as Morgan did in Orlando, Lloyd would give NYCFC instant star power to help with attendance. In return Houston could get some draft picks to continue to build their young team.

    • Guest

      NYCFC need a stadium. The ladies won’t be playing in Yankee stadium. A New York team will also need more star power than an aging Lloyd.

      • BGH123

        I think they should try to get Mewis or one of the many stars in Portland. Eventually that roster is going to have too many chefs in PTFC;s kitchen

        • Guest

          Mal Pugh would probably be ideal along with another big name. I think it’s also important that they are relevant similar to the way Orlando has been this year.

          • Katie Curtiss

            Mal Pugh would be ideal, too bad she won’t be available for 4 years

          • Guest

            If she stays in school all 4 years.

          • Katie Curtiss

            true but there are certain NWSL rules where you have to go to college I think for a certain amount of time in order to be NWSL college draft eligible

          • MurderOnZidanesFloor

            I feel like in this league rules could easily change for a talent like Pugh.

          • guest

            the nwsl, uswnt and portland already changed the rules specifically to get pugh. but so far pugh hasn’t played along.

          • guest

            no doubt the rules will be changed again when pugh does come out so only certain teams can get her. not yet a serious league.

          • Guest

            I mean, if Portland was allowed to just buy all of the players they wanted, like Lyon for instance, would that be more of a serious league or a joke league as well? Bending the rules is not ideal but a necessary evil while trying to grow the NWSL in my opinion. Portland being a top team and Orlando being good is good for the league.

          • guest

            the nwsl is not a joke league like some of the three-team euro leagues are. i can understand some rules being bent to help grow a young league. nothing wrong with having top teams. but the bottom teams have to get fair compensation. or your just going to end up with the have and have nots here also. the original trade of mallory pugh’s rights to portland for only the third pick in the draft was absurd. nobody in their right mind makes that trade for the top uswnt youth prospect who is considered a generational talent. unless you are forced to make that trade by higher powers. rumors are that many teams around the league were pretty unhappy about it too. but this time instant karma intervened. as long as that stuff happens it can’t be considered serious. and it’s doubtful nwsl fans and mls clubs are going to pay serious money to support it.

          • Steglitz49

            The NWSL is the league for 315m people, almost the same population as UEFA. Thus, a comparison with the Champions League may be more relevant.

            Having typed that, I am all in favor of the team salary ceiling and other principles that make the NWSL an even league. Nevertheless, there is a huge yawning income gap between NT players and the crew of the NWSL, which makes a mockery of the balance system. That imbalance needs to be sorted out.

          • Guest

            Tell me. Do you really think that Pugh or Morgan won’t have a say in which NWSL team they go to. There were a bunch of NT players from the last CBA that were unhappy that the USSF forced them to play in the league and that NT players basically had no recourse for getting themselves off terrible teams if they were allocated to them. The league is already have and have nots in terms of which teams are the most desirable to play for. The good thing for the league is that even the have nots have enough talent to compete. Sky Blue bled players in the offseason but have been decent so far. If it wasn’t for FCKC and Boston’s inability to score they would be doing as well a the middle of the road teams. I don’t get your last point on MLS clubs. The MLS clubs are the clubs getting preferential treatment and probably will continue to get it since the league wants more MLS teams involved.

          • MrTemecula

            I’m pretty sure Pugh ends up with a Los Angeles team. LAFC’s Mia Hamm says it makes sense for a women team to go along with the men’s team being formed in a couple of years. People talk a lot of crap about L.A., but nobody ever leaves…and neither will Pugh.

          • Guest

            Mal Pugh will be immediately allocated when she signs on the dotted line. They also have a new process in place for selecting allocated players. Portland tried to get Pugh using that draft this year

          • kernel_thai

            If she comes out after starting at UCLA she falls under the new Subsidized Player distribution system.

          • Guest

            I understand. That doesn’t mean the League won’t adjust the rules or the USSF won’t step in to get what they want. They’ve done it before and I honestly wouldn’t have a problem with it if City Football Group are seriously interested in investing in the league.

          • Guesting

            Being from Colorado, by then, the Colorado Rapids could be in the mix for an expansion team. Her star power is huge in Colorado.

          • AGuest2

            Actually girls soccer in Colorado has a stronger base then the boys and could create a whole new dynamic as to whether a women’s professional team could outdraw the Rapids that currently averages 14,500 plus. Getting Mallory could go a long ways in generating those kind of numbers. Selling out the WNT game within 30 minutes after tickets went on sale is a strong indicator of her kind of popularity

          • Steglitz49

            The spectators were richly rewarded with a 3-3 goal bonanza — and a double yellow sending off as a bonus.

          • Gary Diver

            Does anybody really know why the Commerce City Japanese game was sold out within a day?

          • Steglitz49

            Maybe they just love their WoSo? What were the local rival attractions, if any?

          • TsovLoj

            Because it’s not that big a stadium, it’s the summertime, and Japan’s a serious opponent.

          • TsovLoj

            Was just down there for the USWNT game. The Front Range has potential for sure.

        • guest

          portland get’s stars on the cheap. they don’t give up stars on the cheap.

      • GT

        What is the status of the new stadium? Wasn’t there some discussion of Belmont? For more star power, how about Long Island native Crystal Dunn?

        • Guest

          I don’t think NYCFC has any firm plans in place yet for their stadium. I don’t think NYCFC is going to be able to get Dunn from Washington unless Washington gets a Morganesque haul from NYCFC.

        • Rufan

          The Cosmos soccer team has proposed a stadium at Belmont.

      • kernel_thai

        They already have some good young players in Kerr, Killion and Rodriguez. Maybe new ownership get Foord and Freels back. Then add a few good internationals who might be looking for an adventure in the off years before France 2019. But Lloyd will sell tickets and a competitive team has a chance to keep them.

        • mockmook

          The attraction of NYC for many players would be yuge (assuming a well run, well financed team).

          • Steglitz49

            The cost of living would be prohibitive.

          • rkmid71

            But the potential upside from media exposure, sponsorships, endorsements, etc. would be huge. That would be an investment worth making as a player.

          • Guest

            You can find cheaper housing in New York as long as you’re not living in Manhattan. I still think a lot depends on final location of NYCFC’s stadium.

    • Steglitz49

      If the price is right, the Sky Blue owners would no doubt sell or enter into some code-sharing agreement.

    • Movement

      Kadeisha Buchanan would make sense to go to New York.
      It’s not too far away from where she’s from.
      But not as a draft pick. They should get Canada to “allocate” her there.
      It’s a win-win-win for everyone involved (Canada, New York, Buchanan).

      The #1 draft pick and other assets are then traded to Houston for Carli Lloyd. Therefore, Buchanan and Lloyd give New York the star power and diversity they need to optimize their attendance draw.

      Then, if they do have Raquel Rodriguez, get her to continue Shirley Cruz to come to New York as an international. Now they’ve got the Costa Rican connection going on. Getting Hannah Wilkinson later in the draft, if available, would be smart. New York fans would love a big target forward like that.

      But Buchanan & Lloyd (plus Shirley Cruz).
      Big name players in Big Cities.

      Maybe even go after Necib.
      And this is the one franchise that might be able to lure Marta.
      This ownership group may just open up their pocket book.
      Marta may only be worth < 200,000 these days, and much of it can be paid for by sponsors.

  • Lord Otter-Blotter

    Well, the Liberty are one of the the best-attended teams in the WNBA, so hopefully New York’s appreciation for women’s sports would extend to soccer. Certainly seems that CFG knows how to invest properly in the women’s game. But I agree with others that they’ll probably need to get that SSS underway before they start to really think about this.

  • Cc W

    Maybe moving SB to the big apple makes more sense than a completely new team.

    • Gary Diver

      Once you go down the path of buying a team and relocating than things can quickly spiral out of hand. That would not be good for the stability of the league.

      • CED

        Sky Blue are run horribly and the management is oblivious. Their attendance stinks. City Football Group have very deep pockets and a genuine desire to invest in WoSo by their actions all over the world. NYCFC will get a stadium eventually, it’s just a lot of local politics going on with sites. CFP is a great ownership group far better than clowns of Sky Blue who run it like it’s a local corner store. CFP is world class ownership group. Having SB bough and moves to NYC proper would be a great move and it would not be a mark against stability. It would be a note that bad ownership groups are not welcome. Also, I doubt NWSL will put another team in that area…Sky Blue are 35 miles from NYC. 2 NWSL teams that close will not be allowed and there may even be a clause to prevent 2 teams in a certain proximity. Other leagues have had those clauses and require approval of the team in the area originally. So, the play is going to be CFP to buy SB to get CFP in NWSL. Another, note is that NWS: expansion will be west based to set up more geographical balance and cut travel for the current west team, especially Seattle and Portland. The goal being to eventually go to divisions with east/west. Last year there were claims of at least 3 MLS west teams that were interested to varying levels.

        • Steglitz49

          The owners of Sky Blue put cash on the nail and risked capital to get the NWSL going. They are founder-members of the NWSL.

          By all means let City buy Sky Blue but it is a free world so the price must be right for the owners to sell. Though it would appear that many Americans consider soccer as communism-by-the-back-door, neverthtless we thank you for not reestablishing the DDR in Manhattan or anywhere in NYC or the US for that matter.

          • Guesting

            I am not so sure that Sky Blue is in a position to dictate sales price since they do not outright own the team. I am sure that the league would support them in their getting the best deal they can get when selling their position as an owner/operator in the league. However, I doubt the league would standby and allow them to try and demand some unrealistic figure well above market value, especially if they want to see new ownership in place for next season.

          • Steglitz49

            If the NWSL screws a founder owner that will send shock-waves for all future investors.

            Were I that owner, I would start litigation and we would be back in a MagicJack situation.

          • Guesting

            The founder of the league is US Soccer, not the individual owners. They don’t own their team. the league does. Each owner agreed to an operators license that is tied to certain performance conditions. Should they not be able to meet those conditions within a certain time frame, the league has the right to not extend the license agreement. The investors knew that when they agreed to take a team.. All those investors that seem to be anxious to get a team are fully aware of that as well, especially Portland, Houston, and Orlando, since Clubs in the MLS are essentially owned and operated by the league, itself.

          • Gary Diver

            Personally I think there needs to be a balanced approach. I can see the validity of CED’s economic arguments and also Steglitz’s concern about the connection with how founding owners are treated and its effects on future investors.

            I agree that USSF is a big piece of the NWSL puzzle, but don’t agree they are the true owners of the NWSL teams.

            The Chicago Red Stars management goes back to Women’s Professional Soccer in 2009 and they have supported women’s soccer through thick and thin and there has been a lot of thin in the last 7 years. If somebody buys the Red Stars, I hope an effort would be made to keep the team in Chicago and make it work. It would be a great loss to NWSL to not have a team in the Midwest.

            The stability issue I mentioned earlier has to deal with what happened in MLB in the late 1950s where teams moved around the country like chess players. Also, consider the situation with Quebec City and the NHL. The city wants a NHL so badly they have actively tried to find a weak NHL franchise to poach. Both of these kinds of situations would weaken the stability of the league. Franchise movement needs to be carefully controlled and only done when necessary for the greater good of the league.

          • Steglitz49

            Thank you. I simply see it from a justice and contract point plus avoiding another mess like the MagicJack situation.

            These matters can generally be resolved between reasonable people over a lunch or dinner.

            Sadly, some WoSo fans live outside not only reality but realms of common sense. It does not help WoSo and as the US increasingly becomes a WoSo country, WoSo risks being marginalized in the US.

          • Guesting

            So you are saying that vendors who sign a license agreement that do not have their agreement extended, can take action like Magic Jack did in their situation. Just what was Magic Jack”s situation, owner or operator. I think US Soccer may have set up the league like they did just to avoid a situation like the Magic Jack. situation.

          • Steglitz49

            Enforceable contracts is a feature of democracies. Do you want to live in a US version of DDR?

  • Gary Diver

    Can the Orlando Experience be repeated? They got Alex Morgan and Tom Sermanni and made a lot of good decisions. Any new NWSL team needs to have a star player(s) and a very good coach.

    • Steglitz49

      Lars Lagerbäck has said that he will step down after Euro-16. He can probably be lured out of retirement with enough greenbacks.

    • FlyingSquirrel42

      It probably can’t be repeated too many more times just because you’ll run out of star players. Even as things stand, I count at least three NWSL teams where there are only 1 or 2 USWNT players and none of them are what I’d consider big draws for this era’s casual fans – Boston (Engen), Sky Blue (O’Hara, Rampone), and WNY (Hinkle, Mewis). You could arguably include Washington in this group as well depending on how much you think Dunn (as last year’s scoring champ) and Krieger (hometown favorite) draw in fans who might otherwise not bother going to games.

      That’s not a commentary on whether any of those players *deserve* to be big names, just an observation that, as of now, most of them aren’t, at least not on the level of Alex, Hope, Carli, or even JJ and Broon.

      • Steglitz49

        If they could recruit Even Pellerud or Norio Sasaki to coach, then they would have no problem recruiting star players.

    • guest2

      Teams need a good forward, a good defense, and a good coach to be successful and even with those things Orlando has been forced to play unattractive football due to their lack of quality in the midfield. FCKC has a star player and a very good coach. It hasn’t gotten them very far this year.

      • Steglitz49

        Meanwhile, Rumi Utsugi is joining Seattle. Who are Orlando’s foreign players?

  • guest

    Here are excerpts from an opinion piece in a NY paper by French journalist Sylvie Kauffmann about French society and Euro 16:

    One might have expected the French to rally behind their team, Les Bleus…But the legacy of 1998 proved too much to handle….the French team was struggling not only with injuries but also with a calamitous dispute over its ethnic composition….Angry about being left out of the French squad, striker Karim Benzema….said the French coach Didier Deschamps had “bowed to the pressure of a racist part of France.” He referred to “an extremist party,” obviously the National Front. Eric Cantona, a former Bleus star and Manchester United player, told The Guardian that Deschamps, “who has a really French name,” left out Benzema and another player, Hatem Ben Arfa, because “they have some origins,” a reference to their North African heritage…Such allegations …point to many other divisions in French society…that “Black, Blanc, Beur” a play on “Bleu, Blanc, Rouge,” turned out to be a myth….[According to] President François Hollande …“One is chosen to join the French team because he is a good player, not because he comes from a particular region or a particular origin”….The French… want this team to be ethnically mixed, but… don’t want to hear about ethnicity… want the players to sing the “Marseillaise” and honor the flag, while [they] know that this flag is under attack in many neighborhoods… In fact, we don’t want the team to be a mirror of our postcolonial society, with its travails; we want it to mirror an ideal society.

    • Steglitz49

      Please explain to us bears of little brain how this, interesting though it is, relates to City and a WoSo team in NYC.

      While you are at it, maybe you could set it in context with WC-19, which will be in France, and Euro-17, which will be in Holland.

      Much obliged.

      • guest

        Touchy subject for you?

        • Steglitz49

          All fans of WoSo appreciate the work you put in to bring this to our notice but how does it relate to the subject of WoSo?

          I have on many and various occassions brought up that the USWNT does not necessarily reflect the make-up of US society and that other nations seem more inclusive but that is not the subject of this article.

          • guest

            It’s more relevant than Magdalena Neuner.

          • Steglitz49

            Maybe you should take your knitting somewhere else.

            In case you had not noticed, the French WNT is full of minorities.

          • guest

            You’re free to ignore it, I’m sure that’s the Swedish way.

          • Steglitz49

            France has among others Marie-Laure Delie, Laura Georges, Élodie Thomis, Griedge Mbock Bathy and Kadidiatou Diani, who are obvious of minority background and those are just a start.

          • F0OtballNowAndAlways

            When College soccer becomes as prominent in the American psyche as Football and Basketball, the often dubious techniques used to recruit players to those two popular sports will predictably replicate themselves in Soccer. As things currently stand, soccer does not command the commercial standing that would justify the enticement of talented, generally lower-income kids, into playing soccer on a scholarship, with the proviso that they complete the course work for a fluff major that would endow the entire commercial charade with a semblance of legitimate scholarship.

            Soccer remains mired in middle class elite stagnation because the robust fan demand and history which drive the popularity of football and basketball are just not there yet. When the NCAA soccer tournament start to approach its basketball counterpart in popularity, the present playbook which admits well-heeled students and excludes poorer ones will be jettisoned. In its place will be adopted a system that more or less mimics the current recruiting practices in basketball and football. It might take some time, but I think that is how things will ultimately shake out.

          • Steglitz49

            NFL, NBA, MLB and NHL allows for plenty of ad breaks. Heck, there are even technical time outs for the ad breaks. Soccer, as currently played, does not fit that pattern.

            Worse, as regards WoSo, WoSo competes for the demographic of the NHL. I guess more Americans know who Salming, Loob and Forsberg were than Schelin, Fischer and Asllani.

            The Forbes list of highest paid male athletes is a kind of firebell. CR7 and Messi outearn LeBron James. Shock! Horror!! Egad!
            #4 is Federer, maker of cuckoo-clocks. Phil Nickelson and Kobe Bryant are at #8 and #10, respectively. Nickelson!??!!! Grated Jordan Spieth is at #9 but he could not retain his Masters.

            What is the sports world coming to? Two soccer players who play in Europe and one from a country with the population of MA or NJ.

    • Quoi ?

      En anglais, s’il vous plaît.

      • Steglitz49

        Touché!

    • Ubu-Roi

      The US has been through this already with “Jackie Robinson”, the integration of college and professional football, Ali, Title IX, and currently, openly gay players. One difference about the French that did surprise me was that of Class. I felt as if I had asked Marie Antoinette if she had just farted when I asked several French ‘Glitterati’ if they were excited about the Euros, and was disdainfully informed they ‘would be leaving on holiday’ till it ended. The ‘Gilded Ones’ in the US would wear sports logos in their condoms if they could.

      • F0OtballNowAndAlways

        The French people at the opening match certainly looked excited about it. Everybody seemed to be waving a small French flag.

  • Gary Diver

    The Future: The End of Major Soccer Tournaments as We Know Them

    Enjoy Euro 16, it may be one of the last major soccer tournaments to be enjoyed by fans in the stadiums.

    Cathal Kelly of the The Globe and Mail today wrote a remarkable thought-provoking article (“Might as Well Stage Soccer on the Moon – So Long As We Watch) about the future of major world soccer tournaments. The writing is on the wall and it will affect WoSo as it will affect men’s soccer.

    http://www.theglobeandmail.com/sports/soccer/euro-2016-uefa-cathal-kelly-paris-france-soccer-football/article30373429/

    Some of Kelly’s points:

    1. WC was first broadcast in 1954 for $3,000 broadcast rights. They didn’t even televise the first halves of most the games. If you wanted to know what was happening you had to be on the ground. Fans mattered.

    2. Euro 2000 was probably the best soccer tournament ever staged. Sixteen qualifiers with great soccer from start to finish while Belgium and the Netherlands could not wait to greet the visiting fans.

    3. Euro 16 may be the last single country Euro tournament. Euro 92 had 8 teams, Euro 96 had 16 teams, and Euro 16 has 24 teams. Who know how many teams will be part of Euro 20? Only 3 countries bid on Euro 16 and after Norway-Sweden bowed out, France was the only country with 10 required stadiums and the transportation system needed to move fans from stadium to stadium.

    4. Euro 20 will have no host country and be played in 13 capital cities. At this point only the elite and wealthy will be able to attend multiple games. Fans will no longer be important to the financial success of the tournament.

    5. WC10 was a PR disaster that no one went to. WC14 was another disaster that made money solely through television rights.

    6. Nobody is going to WC18 in Qatar where temperatures could hit 45 C and the stadiums were built with slave labor. WC22 in Russia will be Qatar minus the charm.

    7. Major soccer tournaments are turning into a reality show where the actual game fans are only backdrop for the TV spectacle. To provide a tournament for the attending fans is becoming too expensive and too much trouble in terms of terrorism and infrastructure. The money and profits comes from the TV “show” not from the fans attending the games. Money trumps all other considerations and fans who want to attend matches get the short end of the stick.

    8. As long as TV money grows, who cares whether there are actual fans at the games? All that matters is that it looks good on television.

    • AlexH

      But major tournaments are only a sliver of the soccer universe. All but maybe 10 of the top club and national teams rely heavily on game day revenue to survive. Most clubs are going to try to turn the screws on their fans if they can get away with it but that is good for woso. Nothing could be better for a women’s club than if the men’s club in their city started raising prices on their fans thus causing them to try out more economic alternatives.

      • Gary Diver

        The major tournaments may be a sliver of the soccer universe, but they are a big sliver. Winning the WC or OG is a very big deal. If you win the WC, you are world champions until the next world cup no matter how poorly you perform.

        The future irrelevance of fans at major tournaments will indirectly have an effect on soccer on all levels.

        NEXT SHOE TO FALL: legalized sports gambling

        I am very surprised that there is serious consideration in both the US and Canada from politicians and league commissioners to legalize sports gambling. The arguments are (1) people are doing it anyway, especially online, (2) tax it and use the revenues to pay for good things like education, arts, sports programs (the lottery argument), and (3) use the tax revenue to reduce taxes on the middle class.

        Once sports gambling is legalized, real-time gambling (in-play betting) is not far behind and then the sporting events, including WoSo, will mainly be a means to an end, which is the gambling money.

        • Steglitz49

          You can bet on any soccer match, including WoSo matches in leagues you did not know existed, using your cell phone, tablet or PC.

          WoSo is seen a an honest form of soccer so has its betting afficionados. UEFA are scared stiff of match-fixing, which seems to have crept into the men’s game.

          I don’t understand your point.

          • Gary Diver

            My main point is that once billions of dollars (or tens of billions of dollars) are openly bet on government-approved real-time gambling, it will be very difficult to prevent the tail wagging the dog.

            And once the US or Canadian governments start receiving gambling tax revenues, like lotteries, there will be a tendency (at least indirectly) to encourage more sports gambling. Governments become addicted to large sources of revenue and the more money they get the more money they want. Governments need revenue, but I have an ethical problem with getting it from gambling taxes. Gambling addiction is a major problem and this change in government attitude towards gambling will only make the addiction problem worse.

            Finally, once tens of billions of dollars are involved with legalized sports gambling, sports reporting/coverage will become more and more aimed at the gambling aspect of the events and more and more of the sports articles/stories will include what is going on from the bookie’s perspective.

          • Steglitz49

            Such betting requires being able to watch the matches live. At WoSo matches, at least in Europe, the announcer at the ground gives out the main changes in the odds as the game unfolds, typically after each goal.

            If they do this for the 500 or so in the stands at a WoSo match they do it at the mens games.

          • AlexH

            I actually work in the gambling industry and while your ethical concerns are valid, nothing could be better for the integrety of a sport than having their games booked by Las Vegas Casinos as opposed to Hong Kong mobsters.

            From a purely mercenary perspective if the NWSL could ensure that their games are honest and attract bettors, the popularity of the league would soar. However, on the darker side with wages so low and (according to Steg) their reputation for fairness high, any smart mobster would be trying to take advantage of this by turning a player or two.

          • Steglitz49

            Verily and forsooth.

          • Gary Diver

            What is your opinion of in-play betting? For example, let say you bet $500 that UNWNT would win WC15 SF game against Germany. Suddenly you see JJ pull Alexandra Popp down and the best forward in the tournament (Célia Šašić) is going to get a penalty kick. So you immediately contact your bookie and put $1000 on Germany to win. But immediately after you place the bet, Šašić becomes the first German woman soccer player ever to miss a penalty kick. Now it is time to quickly call your bookie again . . .

            I find the real-time interaction of sports with gambling scary. It adds gasoline to the addiction problem.

          • Gary Diver

            “From a purely mercenary perspective if the NWSL could ensure that their games are honest and attract bettors, the popularity of the league would soar.”

            Why? Is it because people will care more to follow the league games which will translate into increased popularity? Do you think legalized gambling on the games would increase game attendances?

          • Ubu-Roi

            Actually wasn’t it the Vegas gaming industry that detected and blew the whistle on that crooked NBA ref? It seems they have both the talent and the incentive to be the ‘canary in the coal mine.’ It is my understanding by the way that it is Professional sports owners who are adamantly opposed to legalized gaming on their sports, because they correctly fear that a ‘Black Sox scandal’ would destroy their brand.

          • Gary Diver

            You probably know more about this issue than I do, but NBA Commissioner Adam Silver has recently come out in support of the legalization of sports betting.

            http://www.theglobeandmail.com/sports/basketball/nba-boss-adam-silver-alone-in-call-to-legalize-sports-betting/article21603277/

          • Ubu-Roi

            Thanks, great article. Silver is indeed ‘Alone’ and if you look at the list of those arrayed against and the reasons why, and even his caveats, I would agree with the ‘not anytime soon.’ Silver’s argument is analogous to the argument to legalize marijuana, but to decriminalize, not legalize, hard drugs. The difference being we have lost the war on drugs but not the war on crooked gambling destroying sports.

      • Steglitz49

        MLS-expansion of the NWSL puts the lie to that.
        In Europe the WoSo teams of the wealthy men’s clubs are dominating already, Frankfurt being an odd exception.

    • Steglitz49

      #8 — in the early days of televising soccer there was no sound from the match, just commentary. This was not popular with the audiences because there was no atmosphere. Therefore, the BBC developed the microphones that look like shaggy dogs or sheep that they put all around the pitch to collect and get the sound.

      #4 — In the early days the European championship was played as a straight knock-out tournament with home and away legs. Only the final was on neutral ground. That changed in the late 70s or early 80s.

      #5 — WC-10 is famous for the vuvuzelas. As far as I remember the stadia were full and people travelled to South-Africa from abroad.

      #6 — WC-22 will be well attended if only by Russians of whom there are more than enough.

      The solution is obvious: watch WoSo!

    • F0OtballNowAndAlways

      “All that matters is that it looks good on television”

      Aren’t fans a big part of the reason spectator sports such as soccer look good on television?

      I think the biggest immediate threat to soccer as we know it, at least in this country, is ticket prices. The rates for the NT games in particular are simply atrocious. I remember watching Brasil vs U.S.A about 24 years ago (when soccer was still an undiscovered planet in the vast Universe of American sports) at the Los Angeles Coliseum for a song. I think the tickets were about $20 for the middle section – dirt cheap. That match featured Bebeto, Roberto Carlos and other Brasilian luminaries. Today, that match would cost a king’s ransom.

      • Steglitz49

        $20 back then would be about $35-40 today I guess, max $50 but that sounds too much.

        • F0OtballNowAndAlways

          Your first estimate is right on the money. It came out to $34.30 on an inflation calculator. Dirt cheap for the best seats in the house.

          • Steglitz49

            You could use Mars bars as a converter. How many Mars bars would you have got for $20 back then and how much money would those Mars bars be worth today?

          • F0OtballNowAndAlways

            This sounds like a little cutesy formula a teenage boy would try to run on a pigtailed teenage girl on the school playground. One of the reliable pickup lines in your youth?

            Anyway, I got $28 dollars with the formula. I think the result from the inflation calculator is probably more accurate.

          • Steglitz49

            Rats. It was worth a try.

      • Gary Diver

        I agree completely that the prices for USWNT games are over-the-top. The tomato can matches are essentially Harlem Globetrotter events. (The Guardian last December called these games USWNT’s traveling circus.) These games are essentially exhibition games. What is the average cost for a family of five to go through the gates to see USWNT play South Africa?

        • F0OtballNowAndAlways

          “The tomato can matches are essentially Harlem Globetrotter events. (The Guardian last December called those games USWNT’s traveling circus.)”

          “Me and NYRick beat the Guardian to that characterization. We already pegged the USWNT as essentially the globetrotters running roughshod over weak national teams for entertainment a long time ago.”

        • Lorehead

          They just played Japan twice, getting a win and a draw, and earlier this year they played the top three teams from Europe. In between was a team that did respectably in the World Cup.

  • Alexh

    I wonder how far the average NWSL fan is willing to travel to watch their team? The fact that CRS gets crummy attendance despite the fact that it is in a massive metro area tells me that supporting a team is an extremely local affair. If that is the case, perhaps it would be good to do something like cram 5 teams into NYC (one per bourough) to save on travel expenses and maybe gin up some real rivalries.

    • Steglitz49

      Alternatively, put the WoSo teams in medium sized towns where there is no serious competition from distracting sports. Thereby the plays would be seen as “their girls” by the local burghers and taken to heart.

      • Gary Diver

        Good point, but the media bosses still need to want to support the team. I grew up outside of Rochester, NY so I feel connected to the Flash and am sad to hear that the local newspaper and TV sports segment won’t even mention the Flash.

        • Steglitz49

          Indeed.

  • AlexH

    As an aside. I know beggars can’t be choosers but couldn’t City waive some cash in front of the Yankees and get them to move a small section of their outfield wall back a yard or two so that the soccer team can play on a slightly wider field.

    • F0OtballNowAndAlways

      I am not so sure soccer fans in America can be described as beggars anymore. Not so sure at all. Still I can understand the Yankee management resisting such a suggestion because it might affect the number of home runs or hits or something. At least I think so.

      • AlexH

        I was talking about the relationship between City and the Yankees. City might have deep pocket but until they get their own stadium they are the Yankees homeless cousin.

        • F0OtballNowAndAlways

          Is the relationship currently cordial? If it is, it might make more economic sense for City to hold off on their own stadium for a bit. No use taking on huge liabilities if you don’t have to. The good thing about soccer (and I think other popular sports as well), a venue is not always emotionally associated with a team’s essential character.

          I think there are exceptions of course. I have read enough about Manchester United to know that many fans consider their sojourn at old Trafford part of the United experience – than being a United fan just wouldn’t be the same otherwise. I mean, would Wimbledon command the same allure if it was relocated for one year to, say, Liverpool? What about the Masters golf tournament? Would it still be the masters if it moved out of Augusta National?

          As long as it is expedient for them to do so, I think City is doing the right thing time-sharing in Yankee Stadium. When the economics, logistics, legalities or a possible emotional clamor of fans for a dedicated stadium starts to affect the feasibility of the arrangement, that’s when I think City should make a concerted push for a New Stadium.

          Remember this is New York we are talking about here, not the Mid West or the South were there are probably county-sized tracts of undeveloped lands.

          • Steglitz49

            In Europe teams can either own their own grounds (common in England) or rent them from the local government. On the continent even big teams can share stadia.

            Thus there is no one experience for all soccer. One constant experience is the playing of the men’s FA Cup final at Wembley since 1923 (except when it was being rebuilt when they played in Cardiff in Wales) and the ladies since 2015.

          • F0OtballNowAndAlways

            If in a region where soccer is well established, and you can confidently claim a loyal fan base, I would strongly be in favor of building a stadium on a plot of land you own.

          • Steglitz49

            The English teams built there stadia a long time ago, some even in the late 1800s. They have, well understood, been rebuilt many a time and sometimes even moved location as with Arsenal, for example.

          • F0OtballNowAndAlways

            Which is the oldest stadium in England?

          • guest

            Bramall Lane opened in 1855. Stamford Bridge is probably the oldest currently used by a premier league club and opened in 1877. Chelsea started playing there in 1905 though.

          • F0OtballNowAndAlways

            Thank you.

          • Steglitz49

            Goodison Park — a holy name for WoSo — dates from 1892 while Anfield from 1884 and Craven Cottage from 1896.

            Arsenal’s Highbury dates from before the Great War but the famous Art Deco stands date from the rebuild in the 1930s.

          • Lorehead

            I don’t think anybody knows? Wikipedia asserts that there’s a letter from 1666 that mentions cricket being played at Richmond Green, and that two pub teams still play there today, but the reference is a dead link. It also claims that Lambs Conduit field hosted major cricket matches from 1707 onward. I’ve seen assertions that Lord’s is the oldest cricket stadium in England, but that doesn’t appear to be true, and Wikipedia says that the current field is not on the original site.

            The oldest football stadium in England still in continuous use is Bramall Lane.

    • Steglitz49

      Why bother? Soccer is the biggest sport on earth and gradually establishing itself in the US.

      It will be interesting to see the US viewing figures for Euro-16, not least the matches between NTs with great name recognition ie not Albania v Switzerland — though Wales v Slovakia might get viewers because of Bale and Ramsey while Ireland v Sweden would appeal to the Irish community and those who are curious about Zlatan.

      • F0OtballNowAndAlways

        The French did their part, giving their fans and compatriots an exciting opener. The affair didn’t look especially pretty to me, but the French certainly played like they wanted it. And Romania is one of the better Eastern European sides.

        • Steglitz49

          Tonight it is England V Russia but the early evening game is Wales v Slovakia.

          I think fans of WoSo in the US will be frightened by the viewing figures for Euro-16 in the US.

          • F0OtballNowAndAlways

            If you have no illusions of WoSo one day overtaking BroSo in popularity, why should the ratings for the televised Euro matches unnerve you? No sane fan of WoSo expects the women’s game to escape the shadow of the men’s anytime soon.

          • Steglitz49

            The USA is the US of A. Granted, the Senate is playing silly-buggers with the Supreme Court but that does not mean that the ghost of Joseph Stalin, Boko Haran or ISIS have taken up residence in the Casa Blanca.

            The USWNT is one of the great teams on NT WoSo throughout the ages. The US staged WC-99, rescued WC-03 and brought WoSo to the Olympics. In spite of all this, it would be interesting to know the viewing figures of Euro-16 in the US. The matches start at 9 am, 12 noon and 3 pm EST.

  • Jen

    Brooklyn Nwsl team would be so amazing!!! We have a very strong soccer community.