Time for Change

By | 2017-08-02T23:29:54+00:00 12 July 2016|Blog, News|52 Comments

Last year, on the eve of the NWSL championship—that’s the National Women’s Soccer League, our professional league—I wrote a post about the conditions we were working under in an effort to show people just how much the players in the NWSL give and give up to support and build this league.  I didn’t run it at the time because I hoped that the many, many things about our league that needed to get better would get better, especially after we’d just won the World Cup.

They haven’t.

Sunday’s game between my team, the Seattle Reign, and the Western New York Flash, where both teams were forced to play in the outfield of a baseball field, on a field that was dangerously narrow, and absurd for a professional team to play on, was an outrageous example of what we as players deal with on an ongoing basis.

While Sunday’s field issues made national headlines, which we were all so glad to see, the truth is that the standards of our league are so inconsistent and disappointing across the board, these kinds of incidents are really the rule and not the exception. Apologizing after the fact, as commissioner Jeff Plush did, is not enough. Neither is minimizing it, as Western New York coach Paul Riley did by saying his team would “play or practice on whatever field Seattle puts us on next week,” and that “we should just get on with it.”

The ‘we know things aren’t up to par, but we’re going ahead with them anyway’ attitude, quite honestly, is a fairly accurate reflection of how the NWSL has functioned during the four years of its existence.

It’s far past time that the women in our league start being treated like professional athletes—otherwise, we might as well just admit that the NWSL is just a semi-pro league, and stop pretending like it’s the best women’s league in the world.

I do want to take a moment to acknowledge my team, the Seattle Reign and our leadership—our incredible coach, Laura Harvey, and our phenomenal owners, Bill and Teresa Predmore, who treat the players like professionals and do their best to ensure we have what we need to be successful on field. While most teams travel the day before a game to save on travel costs, we always leave two days early to ensure we’re fresh and well-rested on game day. The organization has always put performance first.

The realities of the league as a whole, however, are in stark contrast.

THE FACTS:

  • Most players are paid salaries that place them below the poverty line. The season lasts for seven months, and many players are making somewhere between $6,000 to $14,000 for that entire time. For many players, being a professional soccer player was their dream. Yet they’re struggling to get by. In addition, our season actually has been lengthened without an increase in pay, or incentives to make the playoffs. Basically, we’re being asked to play for free for several months of the season.
  • Players on some teams have told me that they don’t even receive per diem or meal money on the road, which is deplorable. (If that’s true, those teams should not be in the league.) Others have told me that they’re forced to live together like college athletes.
  • The league doesn’t provide proper kits, especially for goalkeepers. It doesn’t provide players adequate shoes or gloves if they don’t have their own contracts.
  • Teams also cut costs by not traveling with a goalkeeper coach or kit man.
  • Training on the road is a mess. The balls we’re provided with are often flat. The lines on the training fields are sometimes crooked.
field_conditions

At left, a typical practice field. Commissioner Plush and league officials should be inspecting the practice fields and looking for sprinklers like this for safety reasons. At right, a net with zip ties that have been haphazardly cut off. A disaster waiting to happen.

melted_shoes

My cleats melted after 10 minutes of light jogging due to the unsafe field temperatures in Kansas. They didn’t wet the practice field to cool it off, And we should never have to train on turf prior to a game that’s on grass. We should be training on the actual game field the day before.

crooked_lines

Crooked white lines and score boards like this attest to the fields we train on. Rarely do we see new and updated fields.

thunderstorm

Trying to make the most of being in DC for lightning and thunderstorms. There was no coverage provided to us in the unsafe conditions, so we went inside despite being told we weren’t allowed to. At right, our pre-game training: a volleyball match.

  • We aren’t allowed to train on game fields at every venue, and in fact, places like Kansas put us on turf to practice. (My cleats actually melted on the turf in Kansas because it was so hot!) When we trained in Washington DC, there were lightning storms, and the staff at the training facility wouldn’t open up available rooms to allow us to take cover inside. (We found our way in anyway, thanks to Laura and our staff, and made the most of it by playing volleyball to get a sweat.)
  • Games aren’t much better. Many of the fields and equipment are poor. At our one of our practice fields, the net was secured in some places with Zip ties and players cut their hands.
  • Often times, we won’t shower at the venues because the showers are disgusting and unsanitary.
  • We do not have close to adequate security. During games, fans are allowed to stand directly behind the goal and yell the most obscene things you can imagine. With the vitriol that comes out of people’s mouths, who knows what they’re capable of, and there’s usually virtually no security there to do anything about it. Again, people are allowed to stand literally feet from the goal. And after the games, the walk to the locker room from the field is often right through tailgating fans, again without security.
  • The league hasn’t adopted FIFA rules so there is no appeal structure for suspensions, bad calls, etc.  FIFA rules would also ensure minimum field dimensions, something currently not in place.
  • Our referees are not up to professional standards. Yesterday, the referee in the Reign-Flash game actually reversed her own call after watching a replay! Our referees are supposed to be professional caliber. The strength of the referees directly impacts player safety and inexperienced refs put us at risk on the field. Our safety should never be compromised, ever. The refs should be protecting us, which they often fail to do. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve had people come at me cleats up that never are penalized for it. Referees have ruined more games than I can count, and there is no system in place with repercussions for bad refereeing.
  • Medical support is lacking. At Sunday’s game, they had no stretcher on the field when our goalkeeper, Haley Kopmeyer, was injured. They tried to put her in a baseball 4-wheeler that had dirt and equipment in it. She had to wait for the ambulance to move her carefully.
equipment

We get the same goalkeeping jerseys that any fan can get, not fitted professional ones that any men’s team would get (or like I get on the USWNT). We had to tape it back for pictures. At right, battling injury going into the Olympics, largely due to refs’ inability to control games and protect players.

cooler

This ice cooler reminds me of youth soccer. The host team even asked for us to bring the cooler back to them the next day for the game.

bathrooms

Pretty typical lockeroom bathroom.

training_table

A typical training table inside a lockeroom. Sometimes I fear getting a staph infection with how old the tables are. I never get on them.

airport

The hotel in Portland is at the airport, and we hear planes taking off and landing. This was the runway right outside my window.

We have a crisis on our hands, and the players of the NWSL want to see more from our commissioner and our league.  We lose a lot of players — quality players for the league — over time because they can’t afford it. In the end, to watch them realize their dreams aren’t sustainable is very hard to watch — and there are a lot of broken dreams for women in our sport.

Commissioner Plush, please: If you truly value the players in this league and want the NWSL to be a model for women’s professional leagues around the world, listen to what we’re saying. Go to some of these hotels, training facilities and games yourself. See the conditions of the league up close. And after you’ve taken it all in, be the leader we need you to be.

Until then, we the players stand united and those of us who play on the US National Team are using our platform to do more. As you might have seen over the past few days, USWNT players created an “Equal Play Equal Pay” t-shirt to promote our quest for equal pay. But equality is about more than just equal pay. It’s about fairness. And what’s happening in the NWSL is not fair.

To provide support to our professional teammates in the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL), the USWNT is directing 100% of its proceeds for the “Equal Play Equal Pay” t-shirt campaign to the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) Players Trust Fund.  It’s not enough, but it’s a statement and one we hope will start the conversations and help push for change long overdue.

 

“Equal Play Equal Pay” t-shirts are now available here for $20 each.

 

52 Comments

  1. Mike July 12, 2016 at 5:05 pm - Reply

    Maybe the conditions are so bad because the league doesn’t make enough money to support better conditions. The attendance and merchandise sales are mediocre.

    • H July 12, 2016 at 6:17 pm - Reply

      Normal companies don’t get to skirt work safety conditions just because they’re not profitable. If Amazon’s distribution center wasn’t profitable, they wouldn’t be allowed to force their players to work for free, or not remove dangerous hazards from the floor. More than that, I’d venture to guess that more fans would show up to fields that were actually fields, versus rec league-level baseball outfields.

    • Paul Atkinson July 12, 2016 at 8:58 pm - Reply

      MLS reports league-wide losses of more than $100 million per year, yet somehow manages not to inflict these conditions on its athletes. NWSL can — and must — do better.

      That said, I’m not sure they can control other groups’ access to the same hotels. A furry convention? That’s…kind of funny, really. The rest of this is awful.

    • Jason vega July 14, 2016 at 3:47 pm - Reply

      Growing up in the states, people said soccer was for girls. They were right, the ladies of USA have proven how much they kick ass. Now, living in South America for the past few years, I realize in the states soccer is for the rich. Club teams, travel, and hotels. Rich people shit. Down here people play barefoot with homemade balls. Thus, the real problem is a class issue as well as a gender issue. The day that all the minority kids from my neighborhood play soccer til their feet bleed is the day that the US wakes up and supports our future and current stars with better facilities and pay. To be honest, I may only know one person in my neighborhood that grew up on a soccer team. The problem rests there. Make soccer inclusive to our American upbringing and erase the fat growing mentality of commercial based advertising driven sports. The problem with soccer as a mainstream thing in the states is that you can’t cramake the game full of commercials aimed at poisoning mind’s with rampant consumerism. In otherwords, watching baseball or American football is akin to sitting down to a bunch of commercials. Wake up USA. Go running, get less fat and stupid.

      • Rick Weil July 15, 2016 at 8:50 pm - Reply

        Very important article and the SA response also excellent. In many cases youth club soccer is populated with many well to do families. That was my son’s experience. I became a fan of women’s football (soccer) and was amazed with the beautiful play of the woman’s national team. I avoided men”s soccer. My son’s experience with ODT was poor.
        Woman’s football has a slight similarity to the old Negro League baseball.
        Better, feared, better entertainment and only made money for owners.
        I am not suggesting that woman’s football will integrate into the professional status conditions.
        Realistically it won’t happen in America.
        Ideally, but impossible women would play in Europe and then come back for international match play.
        Some fans love the game for it”s beauty and amazing play, many only for a local and preferably winning teams.
        The disgusting comments Hope Solo mentioned dominate comments on politics and constantly on FC Barcelona and other top men’s teams.
        As fans we could be heard but it has to be with money and more interest.

  2. Jerry July 12, 2016 at 5:11 pm - Reply

    This is beyond deplorable. Having to live and work in conditions like these, it’s nothing short of a miracle that you can gel as the USWNT knowing what you have to put up with in the NWSL. I thought RFK Stadium in Washington was a disgrace. That’s heaven compared to what you showed us above. Do other women’s professional leagues have to put up with this? No wonder players head to Europe.

  3. Marci July 12, 2016 at 5:22 pm - Reply

    As a fan who has had season tickets to teams in both the WUSA and WPS leagues, I am so happy we have another league that appears to be here to stay. But it looks to be at great price to those players who attempt to bring us quality soccer under the most deplorable conditions.

    I’m not sure what the answer is… MLS affiliation? Better marketing to get more people in seats? Stricter regulations with fines attached to teams that don’t adhere to them?

    I also hate to see the league propped up by USSoccer too, which seems to be a near conflict of interest at times.

    I do hope one day that this league will be self-sustaining, a viable way for women athletes to make a living and a constant popular sporting event that people will willingly pay money to see. Good for you Hope, for speaking up and demanding change. I’ll happily support any effort to make the NWSL successful.

    • tina July 18, 2016 at 3:13 am - Reply

      I was thinking the exact same thing, Marci. Why not couple the MLS and WPSL? Great fields, could have doubleheaders……Just like the NBA and WNBA do………..

  4. Karina July 12, 2016 at 5:25 pm - Reply

    So not okay. When are people going to start treating these professional athletes the way they deserve to be treated. Things need to be fair including pay. Equal pay for equal play. Tell em Hope! Yas Queen!!!! <3

  5. Rick Guillot July 12, 2016 at 5:30 pm - Reply

    Thank you Hope and your teammates for exposing the ugly side of your sport. My daughter looks up to you totally as a role model and everything she does is Hope this and Hope that! She is a U15 playing keeper on a U17 travel team. I pray when and if she gets to her dream of being like you, things will be better because of your guts to speak the truth!!

  6. Kathy July 12, 2016 at 5:34 pm - Reply

    I am so angry the conditions the pro women’s soccer teams are still the same conditions I played in back in the 80’s and 90’s. I was a goalkeeper too for over 20 years. One of the biggest reasons I became a keeper was I could buy my own kit (which was not easy since there wasn’t much to choose from back then) or find some sweatpants and a sweatshirt. Why? Because the field player uniforms were hand downs from at least 4 seasons. They had armpit, grass and blood stains. No way was I wearing that. As for gloves I had worn orange landscaping gloves and had to spray them with hairspray for grip. Sometimes I had no gloves. The field conditions were similiar to yours. Playing on baseball fields, dealing with goal areas that were patches of dirt filled with glass and stones. Terrible refs. I got badly injured on a jump save and the refs would not call roughing the keeper. Goalie coaches were unheard of for women. I was lucky I had a coach who did train me and sent me to one keeper clinic. The boys teams always got new uniforms and played in much better conditions. It angers me that the league is treating you and the players no better than a rec or high school league since back when I played. This need to change now!! It’s not about the revenue. As we know the US men’s team back in the 70’s, 80’s were a worldwide joke. They couldn’t fill seats. Yet they still were treated with professional fields and conditions. This is straight up discrimination.

  7. Ari July 12, 2016 at 5:35 pm - Reply

    I’ve have been lucky enough to play games at the SoccerPlex because of how well maintained the fields and facilities are. And the Spirit games I’ve been to, the security is pretty good honestly. I’ve never been inside the locker rooms to say how good they are but otherwise, the Plex is very well maintained.

    • Mary July 13, 2016 at 12:11 am - Reply

      It seem to me the only complaint she had about DC was not having a proper place to wait out the thunderstorm. Facility access is not controlled by the Spirit, it is controlled by the Maryland SoccerPlex. Possibly some miscommunication.

      • Ari July 13, 2016 at 2:02 am - Reply

        The stuff about DC wasn’t the NWSL’s fault it was the Plex’s fault for not having a place for them to go

        • JR July 13, 2016 at 9:24 pm - Reply

          I would say it is NWSL’s fault. In a real league they have contracts with facilities that require them to provide a whole list of things appropriate for hosting the event. In a real league there is a league official (at least 1) to make sure the facility lives up the their contractual requirements and has the authority to make on-site decisions as necessary to address any failures. And I’m not talking the NFL here, this is normal practice for small leagues and even many larger amateur events. It seems the only professional part of the NWSL is the players.

  8. Brian July 12, 2016 at 5:53 pm - Reply

    What happened to the pride and ownership of this country. This is awful to see especially if you are someone like me who has toured NFL, and MLB facilities. Even college athletic facilities at the D3 level have a high level of superiority over all these conditions I see.

  9. Ken July 12, 2016 at 6:05 pm - Reply

    You can’t get blood from a turnip. I guess the owners are pocketing huge profits rather than putting the money back into the league.

    Most soccer fans would be happy to see the NWSL thrive but obviously not at their own expense. Otherwise the support and money would be there.

    Do you want to find out? Go on strike and see if the public demands your return. The NFL and MLB players did it.

    • SilverRey July 25, 2016 at 10:17 pm - Reply

      That’s part of the problem. Legally, they haven’t been able to strike and won’t be able to until the next CBA is negotiated – which itself is years overdue.

  10. brandon July 12, 2016 at 6:32 pm - Reply

    As a former professional men’s player in the US system, I can assure you that everyone in the 90’s & early 00’s dealt with all these same issues. Many in the USL and some in the NASL still do. (The minimum MLS salary when I came out of college was $12,900, meaning the lower leagues were abysmally low.) I have had season-long “professional” training facilities that were not even close to what I had as a division 1 NCAA player.

    You have a very visible platform in which to address your grievances, and I definitely don’t hold that against you, but it doesn’t mean your argument is correct. I understand that when you see the USWNT reality – a highly profitable and well resourced team, that the line may get blurry, but when you take a step back and objectively look at the NWSL facts, you should be able to come to the conclusion that conditions are directly related to revenues and profits. There would be no league without the NWSL owners. Owners who are in it for their love of the game and desire to help provide a platform to grow the women’s game into what the men’s game has become. These owners (only talking NWSL revenues, not un-related wealth) are more than likely already skirting the profitability line, if not losing money every season. Given that ends are already being met (even if they are frayed ends,) can you honestly say that you as an owner would go above and beyond, knowing that this spending will never be recovered?

    I love the league, completely agree that Men and Women should be paid and treated equally, and want to see nothing but success for all woman athletes and especially soccer players. However, equal opportunity does not mean equal returns. In the free market system, your argument is similar to a minimum wage worker asking for the same pay as a CEO because they put in the same amount of hours; or a low-performing salesperson asking for the same commissions and bonuses as a high-performing salesperson, etc…

    Tell us how the public can help grow your league into what you want it to be! Creating tensions within your league and the owners who are giving you the opportunity to play and grow it, seems counterproductive to what everyone wants to see – a highly profitable league that pays top dollar and provides top resources to its already wonderful players and people.

    • Ally July 12, 2016 at 10:27 pm - Reply

      Did you read Paul Atkinson’s comment above about the MLS? You cannot reduce this to financials only. That does not tell the whole story. There is unfair treatment going on between the men and women, which you are failing to see.

      • Jim July 12, 2016 at 11:24 pm - Reply

        Just branding a company National Women’s Soccer League doesn’t mean it’s equal to MLS, which employs the best soccer players it can.

        There is no civil right that ensures women have to earn the same as men, who happen to play the same sport but in two entirely different entities.

        Ultimately these are companies with investors. If people see value in NWSL, then they’ll invest. If y’all see value, spread the word, invest what you can, and if it gains widespread appeal then people will invest too.

        NWSL is in it’s infancy compared to other popular professional sports. Comparing what you don’t have to others who have much more will never bring happiness.

        Athletes used to pay money to play in the Arena Football League, they’re a little better off today. I used to pay to play soccer and torn both ACLs doing it, which cost a lot more. It’s all about perspective.

    • DFM July 13, 2016 at 1:55 am - Reply

      Well stated Brandon
      Some of the items Hope is pushing for are realistic (ie, booking appropriate hotels, securing safe training facilities, brokering sponsorships to provide professional gear, ect…..much of that is not dependent on money, it is a product of organization and management)…..I have to believe a hotel booking agent would exchange their services of finding clean/cost effective rooms for the teams for advertising or mention on the NWSL website (the same holds true for booking flights/buses/vans)………same holds true for securing fields (training), locker rooms (these are dozens of high schools/middle schools/colleges in all of these towns that have first class facilities)………….the salary piece is one that will grow only based on revenue (ticket sales/merch sales/concession sales)………..her gripes about refs seem a bit whiny to me yet I am with her that the ref needs to protect the players health and safety at all times…..

    • Reggie Evans July 13, 2016 at 8:58 pm - Reply

      Your logic here is off for a number of reasons.

      First, comparing the players in the NWSL to minor league athletes in another sport is inaccurate. Many if not most of the best female soccer players in the world play in the NWSL. That’s what makes the conditions so ludicrous. These aren’t minor league athletes, and quite frankly, many of their minor league counterparts—like female college teams—have better facilities, equipment, etc. across the board.

      Second, you’re making a huge assumption, which is that the league, owners and U.S. Soccer have really put their best effort into finding sponsors, etc., for the league, and this is the best that can be done. I find that extraordinarily hard to believe, again given that even youth soccer clubs often play in facilities that are better than the ones pictured in this blog.

      Third, there are solutions. The Portland and Orlando MLS teams have partnered directly with NWSL franchises, which is a great way of getting the women’s teams some of the resources they need, as well as a built in audience, promotion, etc.

      Finally, anyone who tries to compare the start of the NWSL to the start of other sports, such as MLB, 100 years ago is ignoring how lucrative the world of pro sports has become in the past century. Just because MLB players were treated like garbage 100 years ago doesn’t justify mistreatment as some sort of necessary evolutionary path of every new sports league. They don’t need to start from square zero.

      Somewhere between writing off the current state of the league as the failure of the free market and the failure of the league to be run better, there are real answers besides, “Shut up and deal with it.”

    • DJR July 13, 2016 at 11:53 pm - Reply

      I can read frustration in the post- combining league experience and the garbage USA Soccer has put our World Cup Winning Women’s National Team through all stacking up. Comparing the current women’s league to MLS is not fair because MLS teams never had to play in such garbage conditions- hell not even women’s contact football teams play and practice on fields this bad. This is league ownership and management failure….now the fact that our Women’s national team is paid less then the men, have less of an operating budget, still have to play qualifiers on sub par surfaces all falls on US Soccer and from what I can see are very sexist attitudes held by management. I see the point the women’s national team is making- we are world cup champs- pay us our money and quit subsidizing a mediocre men’s national team.

      The Women are thinking about the future of their sport- without a professional league to develop players how long will it be before the competition begins wailing on us? without a professional league how are you going to keep women that played in college interested enough to want to continue playing rather than get job, coach high school or college and move on with life?

      As a track and field and cross country coach that has amazing athletes we have to fight for everything against our community and its desire to spend all the sports money on a train wreck boys football team. I applaud Hope and the other players for pointing this out and trying to drive a discussion on what needs to improve.

      What can be done immediately?
      ownership must vote in standards for rules, training of officials
      the league must evaluate facilities this year in order to make moves for next season
      The league should look into partnerships with universities…University of Arizona has it’s own soccer only facility, so does University of Michigan… there could be 3 games in ann arbor televised where the university could trade rental fee in exchange for sponsorship “this game brought to you by the u of m” etc.

      with the exposure of these issues to the public some companies may be willing to enter into sponsorship deals with the womens team now in effect saying ” delta supports the “

      • Robert B July 19, 2016 at 4:02 pm - Reply

        Thank you Hope for your effort and your amazing play throughout the years, also thank you DJR for your marketing savvy comments which sadly should have and probably did come to the mind of any number of company executives. Yet we all need to continue to make sound suggestions and follow them with regional fund raising efforts. Most of the posts regarding the higher quality venues they or loved ones played on have a common theme, the love of a fan base (particularly the colleges). May Hope Solo and the rest of teammates carry our flag far this Olympics, and may we the fans find ways to “take it from here”.

    • pennyfp July 14, 2016 at 6:05 am - Reply

      Uhm, no Brandon, I disagree. This is not comparable to a minimum wage worker asked to be paid as much as the CEO. This is like the worker at McDonalds in one town asking to be paid the same amount as the McDonalds worker in another town. “Hey, they get new uniforms each year, why don’t we?” McDonalds is a franchise, different stores have different owners, but all employees are privy to the same basic job standards.
      “Given that ends are already being met (even if they are frayed ends,) can you honestly say that you as an owner would go above and beyond, knowing that this spending will never be recovered?” Who says the spending will never be recovered? Watch a few episodes of Restaurant Impossible. It is pretty obvious that in most small businesses you have to INVEST in some improvements and advertising if you want to make money. People don’t want to support a sinking ship so you have to show them that you’ve improved the ship and it is ready to sail. The financial problem seems to lie more in soccer loving owners that don’t know enough about business management and PR. It was good PR that projected the first WNT to play in the larger stadiums (a decision initially poo pooed by the media, doubting they could fill the seats). And, let me remind you, it was a woman that led that PR movement.
      “Creating tensions within your league and the owners who are giving you the opportunity to play and grow it….” You call it tension. Women call it doing what we do every time we bring truth to light. Maybe you feel “tension” because you subconsciously know the facts and pictures support the claim. My husband travels for his work A LOT. The travel department kept sending him to a hotel that was ‘cost effective’ but the cleanliness standards kept declining. His explanation to his manager was something like, “When I travel for the company, I experience a big inconvenience it puts on my family when I am gone, I am physically affected by the long days and late nights of time zone changes and layovers, and I am in unclean, uncomfortable and unacceptable conditions at the hotel. My sacrifices for the company on all the other levels I will accept. The hotel I will not.” Done deal. They sent him to a different hotel. Hmmm, guessing if it was a woman voicing this to you, you would tell her to “be happy you have the job.” ????

  11. JC July 12, 2016 at 6:35 pm - Reply

    Junior High and High School teams have better playing condutions.

  12. Jeremiah Thayer July 12, 2016 at 8:23 pm - Reply

    I played HS Football in a second division team and we had way better equipment. For God’s , spray or letter the damned cooler…..I have never had the honor of seeing a NWSL game in person, have to resort to YouTube, unfortunately and the occasional ESPN2, Here in Indianapolis we have a NASL team the Eleven, have taken off, we are footing the bill to put them in better conditions, I think that is what is going to have to happen for awhile…..unfortunately….The Community has to step up and demand as well as sports nation as a whole. I am pulling for you all. Love your Brand and you as a player personally. Keep fighting the fight. It will get better, it simply has to. Football today, from 5 and 10 years ago, is a completely new thing here in the states…..and I love it!

    Go Reign!!!

    And Thanks You For This!

    Really!

  13. Stephen July 12, 2016 at 8:41 pm - Reply

    That is disgraceful. I was under the impression conditions were getting better for women’s club soccer in this country, but obviously they aren’t. Keep shining a spotlight on this.

  14. Dr. Laurie Coger July 12, 2016 at 8:59 pm - Reply

    Wow, Hope, these pictures and stories are disgusting! Not the environment a professional should be working in, more like the bush leagues of a poor region… No one should be expected to use those sinks, or not have an ambulance or properly equipped paramedic standing by at an event where some could suffer any type of injury! Hang in there, and keep fighting for better treatment for all players. You’re not asking for opulence, you’re demanding safe, clean, and fair conditions for all players!

    • Rick Weil July 15, 2016 at 9:13 pm - Reply

      Encouraging words change nothing. Actually taking some active supporting action might. In male top level youth traveling teams you had two groups.
      One had their really good team coach and then you had teams with a similar coach but the players also had daily private coaching. Many of these got college college scholarships. I saw half a state champion team that even did well against foreign teams. It was years later and although some were in ODP they now were loading office furnature on and off of 40′ trucks.
      They went from some of the finest to working as movers.
      Nothing will improve.
      The money not being there means unlike your youth development at the Euro pro teams we will try to solve all our problems by hiring successful players or coaches and expect them to correct the prior ten years or longer of player development.

  15. David Van Nynatten July 12, 2016 at 9:23 pm - Reply

    I love this game and I’ve followed the USWNT since I was very young but I was unaware of these facts. I think this is an insult to female athletes and a disgrace to the game which they bring so much honor to.

  16. SiD July 12, 2016 at 9:36 pm - Reply

    As a FCKC season ticket holder I’d love to hear some ideas on how to fix this. Obviously if the league was flush then players can organize and strike for better compensation and environments, but if not, then what? Strike until management is replaced and hope that new management can sell the league to generate more profits? Leave to play elsewhere? Leave to get a job in another industry? All of those just further destabilize the NWSL, making it’s growth impossible. So I agree, let’s stop calling this a top flight pro league and put our cards on the table. Those players willing to suffer the bad training tables and uniforms and hot turf can keep putting in their time (until they move on) and those that refuse to be abused, will aim for France or simply enjoy their time in the NCAA then become engineers or dental hygienists like the rest of us. US Soccer and the NWSL suffers, but I’d rather Jen Buczkowski move on to become a physical therapist than have a shitty life just to win KC one more trophy.

    * PS Each time you say Kansas in your post, you mean Missouri.

  17. Jay July 13, 2016 at 1:07 am - Reply

    Hope, Totally agree with everything you said. These issues also indicate a lack of respect for the fans. I’m a Reign fan and have come to many home games but have stopped attending because Memorial Stadium as a venue for professional sports is a disgrace. The seats are painfully uncomfortable. The playing surface looks like asphalt painted green. And the Men’s room is the most appallingly gross bathroom I’ve ever been in, including port-a-potties.

    I understand that the league is young, but the fans will vote with their feet if a quality product isn’t delivered. The venues and treatment of some of the best women soccer players in the world are part of the product! The NWSL has to up their game.

    Don’t even get me started on FIFA and USWNT.

  18. Syd July 13, 2016 at 1:48 am - Reply

    Avaya Stadium in San Jose is amazing! Move your team to Silicon Valley! Let the women play where the Men play!

  19. Jean-Marie Devory July 13, 2016 at 2:34 am - Reply

    I am so sorry that when I think we have come a long way I find out that we really haven’t. When I was a kid I LOVED to play but I had to play with the boys, and they were not nice to me so I gave up. Now all 3 of my girls play, my oldest is on the U13 travel team and is in love with soccer– and you Hope, she looks up to you and your teammates as wonderful role models- so thank you for that. I am embarrassed that we are allowing these professional athletes to be treated less than 2nd class citizens and I am very glad you are exposing this. Someday I know my daughter will want to continue to play- and she might not be able to if this keeps up. We have NOT come a long way- we are still being bullied and treated like we are valued less than male athletes, and it must stop.

  20. Kara July 13, 2016 at 3:04 am - Reply

    Hope- these are most unfortunate circumstances that are inexcusable and quite disturbing. As a mother of an up and coming college soccer daughter I am in complete disbelief. I truly want to Thank you for you strength and courage that you are/have displayed during this long process. You are shaping the future and inspiring women in all bias careers to stand up for equality. You are the Hope for the future

  21. Laura July 13, 2016 at 4:14 am - Reply

    Don’t stop. Change comes only from discomfort. Be relentless.

  22. jen July 13, 2016 at 8:21 pm - Reply

    Any chance I can get a t-shirt right away? Like within the next week? I’d love to wear it to the US Women v. Costa Rica game on 7/22 in Kansas City.

  23. Marty B July 13, 2016 at 8:27 pm - Reply

    Some of these pictures are ridiculous! As a Rochester NY resident and amateur O50 player I have played at Sahlens Stadium. It may be turf but it’s regulation and I would hope the locker rooms are much better than those pictured (although I think they were temporary trailers at one point?). I saw Hope play there with the USWNT on the tour a couple years back and it was a fun, soldout spectacle!
    I am embarrassed that any ‘scheduling conflict’ caused the debacle at Frontier Field (also a great facility, for baseball that is). The game shouldn’t have been played. A friend who attended was not impressed by the event from any standpoint. Anyone who was sucked in to the ‘Soccer Returns to Frontier’ ad hype for their first game probably saw their last.
    Like many posters, I agree, many facilities here in Rochester (like other towns) would have been a better fit. A nice summer crowd at one of the many quality Universities would have been a boon to said facility and better served fan and player alike.

  24. Judy July 13, 2016 at 9:11 pm - Reply

    The commisionor needs to get out of his finely appointed office and promote the league, build the sponsors, promote the games and the league

  25. David July 13, 2016 at 9:47 pm - Reply

    Take care of these amazing women ! I’m a 50 yr old male who literally never gave soccer a second thought , but these ladies made the game mean something to a lot more Americans like me . They inspire our young girls who desperately need female role models at this time . I watched quiet a few games the last few yrs , and saying the league can’t afford the expense? Somethings wrong there . I bet the owners are living very comfortable off the efforts of these women . And I know endorsements from advertising alone was very substantial in recent yrs. We are not stupid ! Neither are they . Envest and it will grow even more . Stay strong Hope . America believes in you girls.

  26. Uwe Ehrlich July 13, 2016 at 9:56 pm - Reply

    Women’s soccer – keep up the fight. I coached 24 years at the high school level. These young girls need role models and hope for the future. Whoever is in charge needs to get their act together. Athletes, people please unite. This is unacceptable.

  27. Joe Gagne July 13, 2016 at 11:17 pm - Reply

    Women’s sports have always been treated as “second class” compared to men’s. Women’s athletics has progressed in fan base and in popularity, except for the media. Hope – lead the charge! Owners – ante up!

  28. Kyle Holt July 13, 2016 at 11:24 pm - Reply

    My daughter is only 9, but loves soccer and thinks you and Nicole Barnhart are the two coolest soccer players in the world. At a recent FCKC game, she unfortunately ended up with the rowdy fans directly behind the goal while you were playing. As you said in your post, they’re extremely close and the things they yell are appalling. Instead of wanting to move away from their foul language, she specifically tried to yell encouraging things to you to offset their horrible comments. Why? Because that’s how she would want to be treated if she were playing keeper.

    It’s that love for soccer and sportsmanship that I love to see in my daughter. I don’t know how far she might go with soccer, but I am appalled at the conditions the women of the NWSL have to deal with. If my daughter were playing in those conditions, I would be furious. Besides purchasing a t-shirt, what can fans of the NWSL and fans of soccer in general do to help improve the conditions for women’s soccer everywhere?

  29. Crash July 14, 2016 at 1:24 am - Reply

    I saw this article mentioned and had to read it thinking, “Seriously, how bad could it be?” and boy was I wrong. Just for some comparison, let’s take the last league I played in oh about 5 years ago. This was a fairly competitive mens league with around 12 teams. No, not pro, semi-pro or even sanctioned amateur. It was where most of your D1, D2 and D3 guys end up after their college days. Still plenty of gas in the tank, but no teams are calling or scouting them. Many have played over in Europe in their lower divisions as well.

    So you have perspective on the league and players right? Right. I would say our conditions, from the fields, the kits, the trainers, the coaches, the transportation to tourneys in other states, were ten times better than what I’ve seen here. Zip ties on the goal posts? Dude, who does that anymore? Narrow fields? Nope. Ice in a cooler with “visitors injury ice” written in sharpie? Nope. Nope, nope, nope, nope.

    And remember, this is a fairly well organized CITY league with every club fully supporting themselves and I still haven’t seen crap like I’m seeing here. It’s pretty depressing when you think an unsanctioned amateur city league has better conditions than a women’s pro league has.

  30. Sultan July 14, 2016 at 2:43 am - Reply

    As a Saudi football fan, I first heard about the US national team when they won the World Cup and I was wondering that they must have good equipments to build such a strong & talented team. Competing with other world teams need a good preparation, so how about defeating them? You are legends cuz with such a humble support you won the world cup twice. That’s impressive.

  31. Darcy July 14, 2016 at 6:47 pm - Reply

    This is deplorable! Wow America, is this the best we can do? I thought we were the land of branding and hoopla? Where is the NWSL advertising? Better venues would have an initial expense but providing a safe and comfortable environment for players and fans will pay off with ticket sales. More ticket sales leads to higher, (good Lord) more appropriate salaries.
    Our family LOVES soccer and we tape every game we can. We live in a small town so we can’t be season ticket holders, but are looking to plan a vacation that’s turning into a major expense with airfare, hotels and tickets. We don’t want to go to a poorly equipped field with out of control fans and no security (yes, all professional sports have out of control fans but they are dealt with by security, hopefully ensuring everyone’s safety). We want to have a fun experience that inspires our kids, I guess we’ll be doing some homework on the venue/town.
    Hope, I fully support your efforts here and I love that you’re not afraid to use your platform and voice to speak up on these horrible conditions (I really had no idea that it was this bad).

    A little off the subject but recently we took our 11 year old daughter to meet Megan Rapinoe (a wonderful person and amazing athlete). We wanted to get my daughter a poster online that she could frame for her room. As she and I scrolled through, I was disappointed to see how many of you had posed nude. Why? What point are you trying to make? We know you have incredible, muscular bodies that you should be proud of but this teaches our girls that you have to take your clothes off to get attention. Your talent stands for itself, please remember that you have a lot of young girls that really look up to you.

    We wish you the best in Rio – we’re all rooting for you!

  32. TH July 15, 2016 at 6:47 pm - Reply

    Keep it up Hope, keep disinfecting with sunlight. That sprinkler head in the goal area is crazy, btw. All your pics really confirm to me that *no one* who can make a real decision in the mgmt of the league is actually visiting locations and looking under the covers. If anyone really is looking into it, they’re a chump, as the conditions continue to exist. Just total lack of due diligence. This is a respect issue…. have some respect and get all those little things done… these are top-tier professional athletes!

  33. […] Read her piece here. […]

  34. Pam Fields August 12, 2016 at 2:57 am - Reply

    This story is deplorable! This is the United States of America people. The fact that women are still having to fight for equal pay is unbelievable. This is a professional league, not the misguided information given out for Title IX justification by men’s college teams and athletic departments around the country. Where are the priorities. These conditions are seen by your sister, your daughters, your wives and your mothers. What if this was you? If men had to swap places with the women for one week they story would be all over the media and the issue would be settled, resolved, corporately sponsored, or angel investors by the droves. Do American business devalue women because of the profits? Probably. There are more important things than profits, but I understand money is necessary for new facilities and supplies. Can we not get some corporate sponsored fields like The Home Depot Dome, or the CVS Soccer Stadium of the future? Where are the women CEOs and CFOs out there that want to make a stand for women? Hope, women everywhere are behind you. Don’t stop calling them all out!

  35. Keith Young August 28, 2016 at 3:44 pm - Reply

    Hope your name is what you have given to a bunch of my boys. Thank you for that. Glad you have the sack to say it as you see it.

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