2012 US Women’s Professional Soccer League Season Abandoned Over Dispute

January 31, 2012

The highly touted US Women’s Professional Soccer League (WPS) has cancelled the 2012 season amid a legal dispute with an ousted owner.

The league’s Board of Governors voted Monday to suspend the season with hopes of resuming in 2013, the WPS announced.

In October, it terminated its South Florida franchise after clashing with owner Dan Borislow all season. A Florida judge ruled earlier this month that the league failed to follow its own dispute procedures when it terminated the franchise, and another court hearing is set for Wednesday.

WPS CEO Jennifer O’Sullivan said owners chose to cancel the season over possibly working with Borislow in the league again.

“We have diverted so many resources into litigation,” she said. “This is something that needs to be resolved before we can move forward with play.”

Borislow purchased the former Washington Freedom before last season and moved the club to South Florida, renaming it for a telephone call device he invented. The magicJack franchise was repeatedly disciplined during the season for not meeting league standards. In August, after Borislow filed suit against the WPS, the league released a statement accusing him of violations ranging from “unprofessional and disparaging treatment of his players to failure to pay his bills.”

The league has played three seasons. It needed a waiver from the U.S. Soccer Federation to be sanctioned as a first-division league in 2012 with only five teams, below the required eight. In the deal with the governing body in December, WPS agreed to increase the number of teams to a minimum of six for 2013 and at least eight for 2014.

A longtime thoroughbred owner, Borislow was an outspoken figure in horse racing but sold most of his stable because of a dispute with the IRS.

O’Sullivan was not yet CEO when he was approved as an owner, but she acknowledged the vetting process might have been hurried.

“I do think the league at the time was in a situation where they were in a bit of a rush,” she said.

With the Olympics this summer, the league’s absence could give national team players more time to train together even if it means fewer games for them to play. The attention paid to the Olympics would have been valuable marketing for the WPS during the 2012 season.

The league’s predecessor, the Women’s United Soccer Association, folded after three years.

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