Embattled NWSL moves championship game from Portland to Louisville

Los Angeles (AFP) – The National Women’s Soccer League on Wednesday announced a new venue and kickoff time on Wednesday for its November 20 championship game after complaints from players.

The league and its players association said the final had been relocated from Portland, Oregon, to Louisville Kentucky, where it will start at noon “at the request of players.”

The game’s initial location in Portland, with a kick off time of 9 am, had been met with widespread criticism when it was announced last month.

“9am start is laughable,” national team star and Orlando Pride goalkeeper Ashlyn Harris said on Twitter. “Im tired of staying quiet. We deserve better.”

Players also objected to the high profile match being played on artificial turf. The stadium in Louisville, home of Racing Louisville, is a grass pitch.

“At the request of the players, the NWSL has moved the NWSL Championship from Portland to Louisville,” the league said in a statement. 

“We realize the impact this has on the fans who have bought tickets and made travel arrangements. We hope that our fans will understand that this move is made with the support of the NWSL, the Players Association, the Portland Thorns, and Racing Louisville.”

In making the announcement, the league and players association said they had “made progress over the past week on issues concerning player safety, transparency, and moving the League forward in a new direction.”

The NWSL was rocked in recent weeks by allegations of sexual misconduct against North Carolina Courage coach Paul Riley and the dismissal of Washington Spirit coach Richie Burke following an investigation into allegations of verbal and emotional abuse.

League commissioner Lisa Baird resigned amid criticism of the league’s failure to respond to complaints about Riley, who was accused of sexually coercing players during his stint at the Portland Thorns from 2014-2015.

In their joint statement on Wednesday, the league and players’ association said they continued to work on an array of issues facing the league.

“We are all dedicated to rebuilding a league that protects and promotes the best athletes in the world and that is focused on the players, their health, and their safety,” the statement said.

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