The United Soccer League announced Tuesday the launch of the USL Super League, a women’s professional circuit set to rival the National Women’s Soccer League.
Organizers intend to begin play in August 2024, announcing eight cities that are ready to host teams and others that are pending stadium commitments. The league expects to begin play with 10 to 12 teams.
The NWSL, which has seen a spurt in popularity, has 12 teams but is expected to expand to 16 by 2026.
“Today marks a major milestone for the United Soccer League as we take another step in building an integrated women’s soccer network unlike any other,” USL CEO Alec Papadakis said in a news release. “Our aim is to make the USL Super League globally recognized and admired for its financial stability, operational excellence, community building and high-level competition. We are establishing and growing our national footprint while ensuring that all our teams are owners or primary tenants of a soccer stadium. We are aligning our calendar and roster rules with the global game.”
The USL Super League would be a first-division league sanctioned by U.S. Soccer. Plans call for it to follow an international calendar, with the season beginning in the fall.
The NWSL season begins in the spring and ends in the fall.
“The USL Super League will sit at the top of our women’s pyramid with strong ownership groups, modern stadiums, and passionate fans that will deliver immediate viability and long-term sustainability,” Papadakis said.
The league has its initial markets lined up. They are: Charlotte, N.C.; Dallas/Fort Worth; Lexington, Ky.; Phoenix; Spokane, Wash.; Tampa, Fla.; Tucson, Ariz.; and Washington, D.C. Additional markets for the inaugural season will be announced later.
Other cities on tap for the future, pending stadiums, are: Chattanooga, Tenn.; Indianapolis; Jacksonville, Fla.; Madison, Wis.; and Oakland, Calif.
The Jacksonville ownership group is led by Florida football legend and former NFL quarterback Tim Tebow.
NWSL officials have not issued a statement about the new league, but a spokesperson said this to The Wall Street Journal: “We welcome more opportunities for women to play professional soccer in the United States.”
The USL Super League did not release any financial details, such as the amount team owners will pay for a franchise or player pay.
–Field Level Media
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