Low funding forces professional women's soccer to shut down
The Women's United Soccer Association (WUSA) announced its closure on Monday, September 15, due to low attendance and poor sponsorship, according to CNN.com. WUSA's announcement came days before the Women's World Cup began on September 20.
Low attendance at games this past season influenced WUSA's decision to cease operations. The average attendance at WUSA matches dropped from 8,000 in 1999 to 6,700 this past season, said CNN.com. The league also suffered from a lack of sponsorship this year, and many players experienced salary cuts due to the lack of funds.
Despite the rise in popularity that women's soccer experienced after the United States took the 1999 Women's World Cup championship in Los Angeles, the sport has experienced a dip in success amid the competitive US professional sports market, which includes Major League Baseball, the NBA and the NFL.
This year's World Cup, which is not expected to bring in as many viewers as in 1999, may be adversely affected by WUSA's failure, according to the Washington Post. "It's obviously terrible timing…and it's going to hurt [the World Cup] some, particularly in those towns that had WUSA teams," said Andrew Zimbalist, a professor of economics at Smith College and a sports business writer.
The US National Team defeated Sweden (3-1), Nigeria (5-0), and most recently, Korea DPR (3-0), in the opening rounds of the Cup, managing to defend its 1999 championship title. Former WUSA fans have expressed hope that this year's World Cup will bring sponsorship and attention back to professional women's soccer, the Washington Post stated.
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