What a blow to women's soccer after that magnificent exposition by the US national team at the CONCACAF Olympics qualifiers. The WPS has decided to cancel the 2012 season after running into a retaliatory lawsuit bought by the former owner of the magicJack, Dan Borislow. From Philly.com:
" The Board voted on Monday morning to suspend the 2012 season. Over the last year the league has faced significant challenges, including a lengthy and expensive legal battle with a former owner. The litigation has diverted resources from investment in the league and has forced the Board to take action, suspending the 2012 season in order to address the legal issues head-on before moving forward with competition."
During Borislaw's tenure as magicJack owner, the franchise earned the dubious distinction of being named as the worst run franchise in pro-sports. He ran it like a sweat shop without any adherence to rules or regulations. Borislaw fired coach Mike Lyons after three games and took over coaching duties with the help of Christine Rampone.
The franchise ran afoul of the WPS players union and magicJack team members who filed a grievance with the league that accused Borislaw of a number of charges, most seriously a " clear failure to behave in a dignified manner. They also demonstrate his practice of bullying and threatening players, and his creation of a hostile, oppressive, and intimidating work environment which adversely affects players' ability to perform."
The WPS decided to dock the franchise a point and a draft pick for not meeting league standards. On October 28th, 2011, the WPS decided to terminate the magicJack for a whole host of violations ranging from, "unprofessional and disparaging treatment of his players to failure to pay his bills."
The WPS has said that they are determined to be back for the 2013 season.
" WPS has established its plans to return to play in 2013, and all five owners of the League's existing teams - Atlanta Beat, Boston Breakers, Philadelphia Independence, Sky Blue FC and Western New York Flash - will remain active with the CEO, Jennifer O'Sullivan, in the governance of WPS throughout the current year."
A year could be out of sight, out of mind. Unless Borislaw changes his mind. If not, many of the US players could relocate to the European leagues which would welcome their talent and offer lucrative contracts. This would also keep them match fit for the Olympics and beyond. But once again, the question remains, does women's professional soccer have a future in this country? It's a strange conundrum to see the WPS filled with some of the best contemporary talent in the world shrink, while the MLS attracting the second tier and the reinvented, adds franchises year after year.