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Antonucci to step down after 2010 season

Women’s Professional Soccer Commissioner Tonya Antonucci will step down from her role at the conclusion of the 2010 season.

Antonucci will be replaced by current WPS General Counsel Anne-Marie Eileraas, who will take the title of CEO.  Under that role, Eileraas will focus on business and organizational aspects of the league, but the WPS Board of Governors will have most of the power in making league business decisions.

“For the league overall, it’s a time of transition from early stage growth, now that several of the key building blocks are in place,” Antonucci said.  “For me personally, it’s been a great honor to launch and lead the league through its first two seasons, and the timing is right to move on to new challenges and opportunities ahead.  The league will continue to evolve with new leadership – and new ideas – that can carry out the vision of the Board as they look to the 2011 season.  Through all of our changes, which have demonstrated our flexibility and ability to adapt as an organization, I’m confident that we will maintain continuity and stability with Anne-Marie Eileraas in her new role.”

WPS played its inaugural game March 29, 2009, but Antonucci’s work began over six years ago.  Soon after the WUSA folded in 2003, Antonucci began putting together plans for a revival of the best women’s soccer league in the world.

The work still is not complete, but Antonucci feels it is time to move on.

“There is still a lot of work to be done, but we have laid the groundwork from which the owners can continue to build towards a long-term and sustainable league,” Antonucci said. “I’m leaving this in the hands of some incredibly passionate people who are doing everything they can to grow the league and ensure its success. But we absolutely need support from grassroots soccer fans and young female players. I’ll continue to do my part to support the league, by staying involved to assist the owners through the WSII’s seat on the WPS board, and perhaps equally as important, as an avid fan who buys tickets to WPS matches.”

Her final event with the league will be the WPS Championship Sept. 26.  FC Gold Pride will host the WPS Super Semifinal winner at California State East Bay.

For a timeline of Antonucci’s accomplishments and quotes from other soccer executives, see the WPS press release here.

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