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Whitecaps reject WPS model

With WPS needing a sixth team to assure itself of USSF D1 sanctioning for 2012, some have wondered why one of the most successful W-League sides, the Vancouver Whitecaps, do not make the step up to the highest league.

In the past, the Whitecaps have expressed their commitment to the women’s game. They have said many times that they are interested in having their women’s side play in the highest level possible.

It’s a reasonable assumption then to think that the Caps might be willing to jump up a level a little earlier than they intended to in order to save WPS – even though they indicated earlier this year that they would be playing 2012 in the W-League.

Last night on It’s Called Football, I put the question to Whitecaps president Bob Lenarduzzi. The exchange went like this:

I’m wondering what your thoughts are about the women’s game at the top level and whether the Whitecaps will have a role to play in D1 soccer in whatever form it might take?

I think your reference to whatever form it takes is the million dollar question...the WPS has proven again to have a league that is so spread out is going to cripple you financially and for me a women’s league really needs to be scaled right back to the point (where you are) start(ing) afresh and figure out what the development model looks like. I don’t think actually that the W-League is that far off...the problem we have in the W-League is that we have a lot of clubs that are struggling to make ends meet...it’s regionalization again, I actually believe...that I don’t need to refer to it as professional women’s soccer. I think that it needs to be a semi-pro league and it needs to be a league that understands it’s very early times for the sport. So provide that highest level of the sport but don’t worry about professionalizing it, just make it a good level of soccer and then go from there.

It doesn’t take much speculating to conclude from that answer that the Caps are absolutely uninterested in joining
WPS – not now, not ever.

If one of the most committed organizations to the women’s game is rejecting the WPS model as it currently stands, well, that should tell you something.

As we wrote Sunday, it’s time for women’s soccer to get real and get down to the hard work of growing the sport from the ground up. There are no shortcuts to getting a stable and fully professional league.