Phoenix Rising FC no longer pursuing women’s team in USL Super League
Feb 9, 2024, 1:46 PM | Updated: 1:56 pm
(Arizona Sports/Ashley Orellana)
Phoenix Rising FC will not be forming a team in the USL Super League despite U.S. Soccer approving the league for Division I status.
The league is expected to compete with the NWSL for the top professional women’s soccer league in America.
“While we are celebrating U.S. Soccer’s decision today to grant Division I sanctioning to the USL Super League, we have reached the conclusion that now is not the opportune moment for our involvement,” Phoenix Rising FC announced in a release.
The Rising statement cited a Dec. 31 deadline for Division I approval in order to have enough time put the pieces together to form a team.
They also cited the involvement of a team from Tucson, which the club said impacted their ability to attract advertisers.
“Please understand our decision not to join the league at this time is not a reflection of our support for women’s soccer. On the contrary, we are exploring every avenue, diverse leadership, and investors to support and elevate women’s soccer, aligning with our club’s values and the expectations of our fans and community,” the club said in the release.
In May, Rising president Bobby Dulle called the league an exciting path to professional soccer for thousands of young women.
According to U.S. Soccer, leagues must have eight teams to receive Division I approval.
Phoenix and Tucson were among the original eight cities approved to launch the league in May but both have backed out. The inaugural season will feature teams from Brooklyn and Fort Lauderdale replacing the Arizona teams and joining six other teams in Carolina, Dallas/Fort Worth, Lexington, Spokane, Tampa Bay, and Washington, D.C.
Phoenix Rising FC statement on backing out of USL Super League:
To our cherished Phoenix Rising FC community,As an integral part of our club’s ethos, we hold a profound respect and enthusiasm for the development and promotion of women’s soccer. The potential it harbors for growth, impact, and the sheer joy it brings to fans and players alike is immeasurable. It is with this spirit and commitment to fostering a thriving environment for the sport that we approached the possibility of joining the USL Women’s Super League. While we are celebrating U.S. Soccer’s decision today to grant Division One sanctioning to the USL Women’s Super League, we have reached the conclusion that now is not the opportune moment for our involvement. Our decision is guided by two primary considerations, central to our club’s values and strategic vision. Firstly, the foundational stability of any league is paramount for its success and the welfare of its teams and athletes. With stability in mind, we had set a deadline of December 31, 2023, for the USL Super League to receive Division One sanctioning from U.S. Soccer and for us to secure female leadership for our new women’s team. This critical milestone was essential not only for the league’s formal recognition but also for ensuring a robust framework that supports the athletes’ careers, the teams’ development, and the fans’ experience. Secondly, transparency in communications and announcements is essential for sustaining strong bonds within the soccer community. The initial announcement by the USL Super League regarding Tucson’s participation, which coincided with our own initiatives, was made without our advanced knowledge. This development negatively impacted buy-in from potential investors, particularly our prospective lead female investor. We are now focused on finding a successor who shares a deep passion for advancing women’s soccer in Phoenix, and we think the USL Super League’s Division One sanctioning news today will help. Please understand our decision not to join the league at this time is not a reflection of our support for women’s soccer. On the contrary, we are exploring every avenue, diverse leadership, and investors to support and elevate women’s soccer, aligning with our club’s values and the expectations of our fans and community. In the past five years alone, Phoenix Rising Youth has placed 138 women into college programs, over half of which were division one programs. We are committed to being part of the sport’s growth in a manner that ensures long-term success and sustainability. We are incredibly grateful for your unwavering support and understanding as we navigate these decisions. The passion and dedication of our fans is what drives us forward. We remain dedicated to bringing exciting soccer to our community, in all its forms. We look forward to the future of women’s soccer and our role in it, with the anticipation of joining forces when the time is right, under the right conditions. Until then, we will continue to champion the sport in every way we can. — Phoenix Rising FC