The National Women’s Soccer League has announced Marla Messing as the new interim CEO to oversee day-to-day operations and work in close coordination with the board of governors. She is also set to take over the responsibilities of former NWSL commissioner Lisa Baird, who resigned shortly before the end of the regular season.
The search for a permanent replacement will continue as the league confirmed to “ensure a diverse and broad set of candidates are considered for the position.” It has also been confirmed that the NWSL Players Association will be able to meet with candidates and have input in who is selected.
“Marla is a well-respected and highly experienced sports industry executive and we are pleased to welcome her to the league," a statement read. "Her extensive background and passion to see the NWSL succeed serve as a strong foundation for her leadership and for navigating significant decisions moving forward to improve our policies and culture.
"We will assist Marla throughout her transition as she takes on the current responsibilities of the executive committee. On behalf of the board of governors, we look forward to working alongside her and together with our players developing a better path forward for the NWSL."
Messing joins the league as it navigates abuse and sexual harassment allegations made by several players, most notably those by Mana Shim and Sinead Farrelly towards former North Carolina Courage coach Paul Riley.
Given the difficulty of the situation, Messing has promised to lead with bravery and cation.
“I also want to commend the bravery and strength of each and every player in the league to demand the change that should be at the core of every organization," she said. "Gaining the trust of our players and uniting players and owners is central to my approach so that we can most effectively create systemic change.
The executive committee and board of governors have already begun important work and I am committed to overseeing league operations to implement widespread reform initiatives intended to protect all players and staff, and further advance the popularity of and love for women’s soccer here in the United States."
The newest CEO has extensive experience working in sports, previously serving as executive vice-president of the World Cup in 1994 and CEO of the Women’s World Cup in 1999. From 1995-1996, Messing was a founder and senior vice-president of Major League Soccer.