CHICAGO -- Reports that the women's national team players will get an ownership stake in a new league from the U.S. Soccer Federation are false.
USSF has no power to grant an ownership stake; it can only sanction a league. (The notion that this would be unprecedented is also untrue: the now-defunct ABL offered shares to its players).
"Any reports on a league -- which hasn't even been announced yet -- are very premature," said USSF spokesman Jim Moorhouse.
Currently, Discovery Communications founder John Hendricks has expressed interest and submitted a plan for a proposed league; however, reports that it is a done deal are also false, for other plans are being submitted by Major League Soccer, with Phil Anschutz reportedly in the driver's seat. USSF will meet in the near future to decide which plan -- if any -- to accept.
Just to stir things up, three thoughts: First, what makes anyone think a women's soccer league can prosper where so many other leagues have failed? This isn't a gender issue -- it's a soccer issue. Second, the word "union" was bandied about in an article on this subject, and I wonder just how anyone can form a union when the job in question is the national team? It's a selection, not a right. I don't think FIFA would like that one too much, either.
I think USSF has set a dangerous precedent in an admittedly sticky situation. Its actions belie the fact that it clearly felt the players had all the power. The fact that this concession was won with a boycott of a team that didn't even exist means these women really made out.
This might be the first time when a group of players who refused to play for their country -- not because they weren't getting paid, but because they felt that amount wasn't enough -- were rewarded. I find it ironic that the amount the players made last year -- $200,000 a woman -- seems small. Because that also happens to be President Clinton's salary, and if I remember right, he's also a guy who was picked to serve his country.
Jamie Trecker, editor of Kick! magazine, writes regularly for ESPN.com. You may e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org; while he guarantees he will read all letters, he regrets that he cannot guarantee a reply because of overwhelming volume.