The NWSL’s 2021 championship has its time and location. Seemingly none of the players are happy about it.
The top American women’s soccer league announced Monday that its championship match will be held at Providence Park, home of the Portland Thorns, on Nov. 20. At 9 a.m. local time.
The league’s commissioner had this to say:
“We’re excited to bring the NWSL Championship back to Providence Park,” said NWSL Commissioner Lisa Baird. “Portland is a fantastic soccer city with a passionate fanbase, and we’re confident the stadium will provide a wonderful atmosphere to celebrate the culmination of the 2021 season.”
While Portland’s fans might be passionate, the league’s players were significantly less eager about the announcement, both due to the early start time and the chosen location. Providence Park is unpopular among players due its use of artificial turf in lieu of natural grass, making falls harder and the game more difficult to play.
For comparison, none of the teams in the FA Women’s Super League, the top level of English soccer, play on turf fields, though some do play on a hybrid surface often seen in the men’s Premier League. It’s also worth noting Portland hosted the NWSL championship in both 2015 and 2019, so this isn’t a case bringing the championship to a city for the first time.
The reason for the absurdly early start time is almost certainly money. Per the NWSL, the championship match will air on CBS and its streaming service Paramount+ in the U.S., so we are likely looking at a situation in which a broadcaster didn’t want its primetime or late afternoon schedule disrupted, leaving the NWSL to hold its biggest match at a time when some fans are just waking up.
None of that was a consolation for a very online group of players, who bombarded the league with scorn for its choices:
We’ll see if the NWSL or CBS makes a change. Otherwise, the tweets are just going to keep coming.