World Football - US to launch eight-team women's soccer league

Attempting to succeed where others have failed, a new women's professional soccer league in the United States will begin play in March next year.

World Football - US to launch eight-team women's soccer league

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Abby Wambach (14) of the U.S. celebrates with team mates Lauren Cheney (12) and Carli Lloyd (10) after winning their women's soccer final gold medal match against Japan at Wembley Stadium during London 2012 (Reuters)

The most recent women's league, Women's Professional Soccer, folded in May after three seasons and a previous attempt, the Women's United Soccer Association, also collapsed with heavy losses after three seasons in 2003.

But, in announcing a novel method of support from three national federations, Gulati said the new structure would aim to be more "sustainable".

The Canadian and Mexican federations, along with US Soccer, will fund the salaries of their national team players who will feature in an eight-team league.

"We are trying to find an economical model that is sustainable," Gulati said.

"If we see the federations as the government, we are subsidizing the private sector here to try to make this sustainable and the investments by the private sector smaller," he added.

The arrangement will ensure that the players from the three national teams are playing regular competitive soccer and frees the federations from the 'de facto' alternative of constant training camps.

US Soccer will pay for up to 24 players while Canada's total could run up to 16 and Mexico has committed at least 12 players.

In order to further ease the collective burden on the eight franchises, US Soccer will also finance the administrative office costs of the league.

The eight teams will be based in Boston, New Jersey, Western New York, Washington DC, Chicago, Kansas City, Seattle and Portland, said Gulati.

The Portland team will be owned by the Portland Timbers Major League Soccer club but they will be the only MLS team in the new structure, which has yet to be named.

The US won gold at the women's Olympic tournament in London this year, beating Canada in the semi-finals before beating Japan in the final.

The US women's team are a powerful force in the game internationally, having won two World Cups and four Olympic gold medals.

But turning enthusiasm for that team and its popular players into weekly support for a league has proved a tricky task.

"We need a sustainable model. Less hype and better performance. True hype will come if we have performance," said Gulati.

The US Soccer president said some players may not be full-time professionals all-year round and that three other cities had been considered but not included.

Groups in Los Angeles and Philadelphia indicated they were among the trio not selected to be part of the league's eight founding clubs.

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