LTA caught up with Shek Borkowski, an outspoken former USA Women’s Premier Soccer League Champion and US Open Cup Winner with FC Indiana, and the only US coach to date to coach in the UEFA Champions League on his thoughts about recent US Women’s Soccer setbacks.
LTA: You have been a long time critic of US Soccer. Why?
SB: Because the federation is guilty of mismanagement when it comes to women’s football.
LTA: In what way?
SB: Their mission statement is to “develop soccer at all recreational and competitive levels.” Ask any WPS, W-League, or WPSL club in the country if they have received any assistance in infrastructure development or player development. MLS lost money for years, and US Soccer directly or through its influence subsidized it for years. Do you think they will support and rescue the WPS? The federation has been a beneficiary of the NCAA generosity in facilities development and player development. Imagine where the sport would be today if it wasn’t for the NCAA? US Soccer has done nothing for female players and infrastructure development for female players.
LTA: But we understand that US Soccer is financially supporting WPS, isn’t it?
SB: No, they are subsidizing part of WNT players salaries.
LTA: Why do you think US Soccer is not doing enough to support women’s soccer?
SB: You must realize that US Soccer is an administrative and representative arm of Soccer United Marketing. As such it focuses on the men’s game and simply does enough to keep the women’s side quiet. Today, US Soccer, outside of WNT, spends less per registered female player than the Football Association of Chile. Ask successful women’s clubs like Ajax America or New Jersey Wildcats how it benefits them to be affiliated with US Soccer. Right now, ask FC Gold Pride how it helped them being affiliated with US Soccer. Do you think what happened to FC Gold Pride would be permitted to happen to LA Galaxy? And LA has lost a lot more money than FC Gold Pride ever would. If you are an investor in the men’s game you will be subsidized when needed. Not so on the women’s side.
LTA: What can be done to change this?
SB: Nothing will be changed because change would require difficult decisions, choices and action by those involved with and fans of the women’s game. Those involved in women’s football in general are content with being neglected and being taken advantage of. It will continue.
LTA: Can you be more specific?
SB: US Soccer, SUM and their partners are interested in the bottom line, so all of us involved in women’s football would need to impact it negatively by boycotting Nike, Adidas, Gatorade, and other US Soccer partners. Don’t support the MLS. Demand that US Soccer spends at least 33% of their budget on women’s football development, supporting women’s leagues, clubs, creating infrastructure and long term player development. Without financial pressures there will be no change. But I just can’t imagine that women’s teams – youth, high school, college, W-League or WPSL would stop buying Nike or Adidas products. Can you imagine, for the good of women’s football, any US WNT players refusing Nike or Adidas endorsements? Not a chance. All involved in the women’s game are content to get the crumbs, and that is why the situation is getting worse.
LTA: But for Nike and other US Soccer partners it has to make business sense to invest in women’s soccer, doesn’t it?
SB: I agree, and that is why we need to demonstrate to them why it is a smart BUSINESS decision to support women’s football and a poor BUSINESS decision to ignore it. Companies like Nike spend more money on one basketball athlete than on entire women’s football in the country.
LTA: You must admit that basketball is entirely different from women’s soccer.
SB: Of course, but it wasn’t so in the 70s. It took a leap of faith for a number of companies to support and grow the NBA and look where it is now. The same is required for WPS, but we will have to press, and we must start with US Soccer.