The NWSL’s beleaguered championship game has been moved from Portland to Louisville.
Following player complaints, the National Women’s Soccer League announced a revised site and kickoff time for its November 20 championship game on Wednesday.
The final has been moved from Portland, Oregon, to Louisville, Kentucky, where it will begin at noon “at the request of players,” according to the league and its players organization.
When the game’s initial location in Portland, with a 9 a.m. kickoff time, was announced last month, it was received with significant criticism.
On Twitter, national team goalie and Orlando Pride goalkeeper Ashlyn Harris commented, “9 a.m. start is ludicrous.” “I’m sick of being quiet. We are entitled to better.” The high-profile match being played on artificial turf was also a point of contention for the players. Louisville’s stadium, which is home to Racing Louisville, is a grass pitch.
“The NWSL has moved the NWSL Championship from Portland to Louisville at the request of the players,” the league announced in a statement.
“We recognize the impact on fans who have purchased tickets and made travel arrangements as a result of this. We hope our fans understand that the NWSL, the Players Association, the Portland Thorns, and Racing Louisville have all backed us in this decision.” The league and players association stated they had “made progress over the previous week on matters impacting player safety, transparency, and pushing the League ahead in a new path” in making the statement. In recent weeks, the NWSL has been shaken by sexual misconduct allegations against North Carolina Courage coach Paul Riley and the removal of Washington Spirit coach Richie Burke after an inquiry into charges of verbal and emotional abuse.
Riley was accused of sexually coercing athletes during his tenure with the Portland Thorns from 2014 to 2015. League commissioner Lisa Baird resigned amid criticism of the league’s slowness to respond to accusations concerning Riley.
The league and players’ association said in a joint statement on Wednesday that they were continuing to work on a variety of issues confronting the league.
“We are all committed to establishing a league that protects and promotes the world’s top athletes and is focused on the players, their health, and their safety,” the statement read.