Women's Professional Soccer ceases operation

The Women's Professional Soccer league has folded after three seasons following the cancellation of the 2012 season in January amid a legal dispute with an ousted owner.
Brazilian striker Marta, middle, of Western New York Flash, holds up the trophy after the team defeated the Philadelphia Independence in the WPS championship soccer game on Nov. 29, 2011. (Dan Cappellazzo/Associated Press)

The Women's Professional Soccer league has folded after three seasons.

The WPS had cancelled the 2012 season in January, at the time hoping to return next year.

"We sincerely regret having to take this course of action," T. Fitz Johnson, owner of the Atlanta Beat and chairman of the board of governors, said in a statement Friday.

The league's predecessor, WUSA, also lasted only three seasons, burning through more than $100 million US in investments in the euphoric aftermath of the U.S. victory at the 1999 World Cup. American fans again watched the Women's World Cup in large numbers last summer, but it wasn't enough to save the WPS. Women's soccer could again attract big audiences during this year's London Olympics if the U.S. team advances far.

The 2012 season was scrapped amid a legal dispute with an ousted owner. League officials had clashed with Dan Borislow of the South Florida franchise all last season and tried to terminate the club in October. The WPS said Friday it had reached a confidential out-of-court settlement with Borislow, who sued the league last summer.

The WPS debuted with seven teams in 2009. Franchises in Los Angeles, St. Louis, Chicago and the Bay Area folded, and teams were added in Philadelphia, Atlanta and western New York.

The league had six clubs last season and was preparing to play in 2012 with five, requiring a waiver to be sanctioned by U.S. Soccer, after the South Florida franchise was terminated.

Borislow purchased the former Washington Freedom before last season and moved the club to South Florida, renaming it for a telephone call device he invented. T

he magicJack franchise was repeatedly disciplined during the season for not meeting league standards. In August, after Borislow filed suit against the WPS, the league released a statement accusing him of violations ranging from "unprofessional and disparaging treatment of his players to failure to pay his bills."