National Women’s Soccer League players have criticised the decision to hold their Championship match on an artificial turf pitch at 9am.
The NWSL announced Providence Park in Portland would host the fixture on November 20th, with a kick-off time of 9am. The news sparked anger among NWSL players and beyond.
Orlando Pride and USWNT goalkeeper Ashlyn Harris, who recently broke the NWSL all-time save record, 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.”
Harris’s wife and teammate Ali Krieger also voiced her discontent on Twitter, writing: “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 midfielder Jess Fishlock replied to Krieger’s post with: “At 9am in the morning. 5am pre match sounds soooooo good.” In response, Krieger wrote: “Right?! We don’t even train at 9am. Jokes.”
The Championship match concludes the regular NWSL season each year. It is contested by the two winners of a play-off series, which is made up of the top four teams in the end-of-season standings.
Last year’s play-off matches and final were cancelled as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, while North Carolina Courage emerged victorious in 2019.
The NWSL players have earned sympathy from footballers further afield. Janine Beckie, the Canadian forward who plays for Manchester City, voiced her anger at the decision in a three-post tweet.
“The NWSL championship is scheduled to kickoff at 9AM… yes you read that right,” she said. “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.”
The NWSL is yet to comment on the reaction to the decision to stage the Championship match at 9am.