Women's Professional Soccer (WPS) received a lifeline from U.S. Soccer on Monday. The governing body gave it conditional permission to operate a five-team league in 2012, according to ESPN.
"After a positive discussion, the U.S. Soccer Board of Directors approved a plan to sanction WPS as a Division 1 professional league in 2012, subject to certain conditions," a U.S. Soccer statement read. "Once the Board receives confirmation from WPS that all five teams agree to those conditions, U.S. Soccer will issue a formal announcement."
U.S. Soccer Federation rules require professional leagues to field at least eight teams. It granted WPS a waiver last season to operate with six. South Florida franchise MagicJack folded in October, leaving the league with five teams in place for the coming season.
Sky Blue FC (New Jersey), Philadelphia, Western New York, Boston and Atlanta will field teams in an officially-sanctioned first division league, provided they meet unspecified conditions.
WPS says several groups are looking to capitalize on the popupalarity of last summer's Women's World Cup and invest in expansion teams, but none would be in place in time for next season. League officials believe 2013 will see more teams join the league.
WPS launced in 2009 with the goal of being the world's top women's soccer league. It replaced the WUSA, which folded after three seasons in 2003, as America's top-flight soccer league.
Photo via Flickr/thepaigefamily
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