NWSL players fume at 9am kick-off time and turf pitch for Championship match

By Sarah Rendell
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National Women’s Soccer League players have expressed anger that the league is hosting their Championship match at 9am and on an artificial turf pitch.

Three clubs had bid for the Championship match on 20 November but Louisville and Orlando are thought to have pulled out. This meant Portland’s Providence Park will be the stadium it is played.

The league announced Portland as the destination and the early morning kick-off in a social media video and multiple stars across the NWSL used the same platform to air their grievances.

Orlando Pride and USWNT goalkeeper Ashlyn Harris wrote in a series of tweets: “Great. Throw us on turf. Sounds like an awesome idea. What’s next another baseball field?

“Absolutely embarrassing. @nwsl do better. 9am start is laughable. I’m tired of staying quiet. We deserve better.”

Another Pride and USWNT star Ali Krieger wrote: “Adding two new franchises next season with beautiful grass stadiums all around the country—moving in a great direction and then we choose turf to play the final of the best league in the world?! Wow.”

OL Reign and Wales international Jess Fishlock replied to Krieger’s tweet and said: At 9am in the morning. 5am pre match sounds soooooo good.” And she later added: “Probs just stay awake … power through til kick off. Play at high school times. Act like a high school gal.”

North Carolina Courage and USWNT forward Jessica McDonald added: “One, championship has already been held there. Two, let’s try a different site (that doesn’t have turf to top it off). Three, 9am????? What in actual efffff!!!

“My kid is barely up at that time. We deserve better than this, @nwsl this is NOT ok!!!!! 9am…..?? Who’s idea was this?”

It’s not just players within the league itself who have hit out, it’s stars from across the footballing world.

Manchester City and Canada player Janine Beckie wrote: “The NWSL championship is scheduled to kick-off at 9AM… yes you read that right. Insane. Needs to change, simply unacceptable. And if you don’t know why, you’re part of the problem.

“I feel the need to expand on this: 1st: (and most important) the players, preparing to play a *FINAL* at 9am is among many other words, incredibly difficult & unnecessary. 2nd: this, I will continue to say, is the championship game…

“The women’s game is 100% growing in interest & viewership, it’s fantastic but this is a step backwards. If there’s no push to make this (FINAL) a prime time game, that makes me very disappointed. I obviously don’t know the details but 9am (for whatever reason) is bad.”

Former NWSL player and now Paris Saint-Germain star Stephanie Labbe replied to Beckie, saying: “Imagine warming up at 815am. Pregame meal at…. 6am. Wake up time? … don’t even get me started. It’s beyond unacceptable @NWSL These players deserve better.”

As of yet the league have not made a statement regarding the players outrage and haven’t announced plans to change the details surrounding the Championship match.

The game acts as a final for the NWSL regular season and the teams to play in it will be decided across three play-offs which begin on 6 November.

The regular season began in May after Portland Thorns won the NWSL Challenge Cup.


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