Feb 6th, 2013 by TVG Staff
By Dave Lange, Senior Associate
Abby Wambach, the most lethal scorer in women’s soccer, stopped in St. Louis recently and took time out to be interviewed by TVG Senior Associate Dave Lange. On January 7, Wambach was named FIFA Women’s World Player of the Year. Four days later, she was allocated to the Western New York Flash in the new National Women’s Soccer League, which begins play this spring.
Q: Why is it important to get this new league going?
In order to deepen our national team pool, in order to give 150 other women, and men who will be working for the teams, new jobs, it’s a socially conscious (goal) that a lot of us really believe in. We want to make sure we leave this game better than we found it, and a women’s professional league would give us the ability to say we have left this game better than we found it.
Q: What’s important to build into this league?
You have to be smart financially. That’s been the issue the last two go-rounds, and we don’t have the opportunity to fail a third time. Historically speaking, many start-up leagues lose money in the first five years. We need to have deep pockets, people who are willing to lose the money but are passionate about the game and the growth of the game. Hopefully there are few billionaires out there who have little girls who are playing soccer and aspire to be doing what I do.
Q: (U.S. Soccer Federation president) Sunil Gulati has said the soccer federation may compensate the national team players or help with that in a new league.
I think what U.S. Soccer has in mind right now is something that the women’s national team is discussing. We’re in talks with them about it and we want to make sure that it’s done right. We don’t want to just jump into something again because we can’t afford to lose a third time. So, we need the right investors and the women’s national team has to protect what we’re in search of as well, and that’s a World Cup. That’s what’s next on our agenda. We can’t risk moving backwards. We have to still keep growing with it ourselves as a national team. I think what U.S. Soccer is proposing is a semiprofessional league, and what we need to be part of is a professional league. We need to figure something out between semipro and pro and something that will continually help the women’s national team get better.
Q: Is artificial turf a show-stopper or would you (the national team players) be willing to play on turf in a new league?
It hasn’t been. Our last couple of leagues have had field turf. I prefer not to play on field turf because, A, it’s a different game, and B, it hurts to fall and slide. I understand why a lot of people are going to field turf. It’s more fiscally conservative; you don’t have to deal with water and maintenance on regular grass. But I’m a lover of grass. I think the game is played more beautifully [on grass]. Hopefully we can secure teams, in whatever capacity, whether it’s the national team or on the pro side, that we play in grass stadiums.
Later this month, catch Part 2 of the interview where Abby discusses her goal-scoring record chances, and the difficulties of setting up a professional league for women’s soccer players in the United States. And if you need assistance with sports marketing, the experts here at TVG have got you covered! Call us at 314-991-4641 or visit our website at www.vandivergroup.com for more information.