As the U.S. women’s team beat South Africa 1–0 in friendly attended by 19,272 people at Soldier Field in Chicago, an NWSL match between the Western New York Flash and Seattle Reign was played on a shrunken field at a minor league baseball stadium.
Western New York normally play their home matches at the soccer-specific Sahlen’s Stadium in Rochester, but since that was somehow booked for a concert on Sunday, the match was moved to the outfield of Frontier Field. According to ESPNW, the NWSL (and MLS) require a minimum width of 70 yards, which this definitely was not. FIFA requires a width of 70–80 yards for international matches and the general dimensions mandated by the laws of the game are merely 50–100 yards wide.
Western New York won 3–2, but members of the U.S. team publicly expressed their displeasure with the situation to the league and commissioner Jeff Plush.
Seattle midfielder Jessica Fishlock offered a scathing review of the experience.
The league issued the following statement in response to those who were rightly unhappy:
“Earlier this evening, the Western New York Flash hosted a home match at a different venue due to Rhinos Stadium not being available.
The field dimensions were not up to our standards, but due to various factors, the league office made the decision to grant an exception for this evening’s match. In retrospect, we made the wrong decision.
As a professional league, we need to ensure that the integrity of the game is always respected both on and off the field. We did not do that tonight and we apologize to the NWSL players, coaches and fans.
In the future, we will ensure that every NWSL match meets our standards.”
Megan Rapinoe isn’t having it, though.
Hopefully this will serve as a reminder that women are still fighting for far more than equal pay. Here’s the full match video so you can see the full extent of the absurdity: