A number of NWSL stars took to social media to express their disdain at the 09:00 kick-off time for the biggest game of the 2021 season, though the league claims it was forced to accommodate a national television slot.
The National Women’s Soccer League announced on Sunday that Provide Park in Portland would host the 2021 Championship match on November 20 at 09:00 local time.
Several high profile athletes, including Ashlyn Harris, Ali Krieger, Rachel Corsie and Jess Fishlock, were the first to hit out at the league for scheduling a final with an early-morning start, highlighting the complications a player faces with a 5am pre-match.
“9am KO(local time)… least we getting all nostalgic and rolling it back to those u12 days of early starts on a Sat morning! The best league, the best players, in the biggest game of the year,” Corsie wrote on Twitter.
Orlando Pride goalkeeper Ashlyn Harris quoted Corsie’s tweet, adding, “absolutely embarrassing, NWSL do better.”
Orlando Pride player Ali Krieger also pointed out that the chosen venue is the only stadium without grass, using turf instead.
“Adding two new franchises next season with beautiful grass stadiums all around the country—moving in a great direction and then we choose turf to play the final of the best league in the world?! Wow” Krieger exclaimed.
Several other players and coaches showed their support for the players on social media, hoping to influence the league to alter the schedule.
NC Courage and USWNT forward Jessica McDonald said: "We deserve better than this, NWSL. This is NOT ok!!!!"
OL Reign head coach Laura Harvey joined the protests, saying: "9am kick off!!! Please please please change that. It’s not ok for any team! Showcase our amazing league and athletes the way they deserve."
While the NWSL failed to explain the reasoning behind the venue and early kick-off, several outlets reported CBS was only able to offer its noon ET time slot with later times being occupied by college football.
It remains unclear at the moment if the NWSL are willing to consider a change in venue or time.