The National Women’s Soccer League announced the relocation of this year’s championship final to Louisville with a 12:00 pm ET start time 'at the request of the players'.
The match was initially set to be in Portland at 9:00 am PT, before it received widespread criticism by the players and their supporters.
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.
The league has since listened by altering the schedule to accommodate the players.
“At the request of the players, and in coordination with the Portland Thorns organization and the Racing Louisville organization, the NWSL has moved the 2021 NWSL Championship from Portland to Louisville. The NWSL Championship is a marquee event for the players, the league and women’s soccer in the United States and the league wants to ensure that the players are in a position to perform at their highest level.
The change in time zone will allow a later start that is more suitable for players and attending fans,” said the league through a statement.
The match will now be played at the Lynn Family Stadium in Louisville, Kentucky, a soccer-specific stadium where NWSL's Racing Louisville FC regularly play.
“We are thrilled to be hosting the 2021 NWSL Championship game at Lynn Family Stadium,” said Brad Estes, President of Racing Louisville FC. “Racing Louisville FC joined the league earlier this year and already we’ve felt the immense love and support from our incredible fans and community. Louisville is an outstanding market for women’s soccer, and we look forward to showcasing our beautiful stadium and city through this event.”
This is the first step for the NWSL and the NWSL Players Association as they work together to prioritize the players and their safety.
“The NWSL and the NWSL Players Association have made progress over the past week on issues concerning player safety, transparency, and moving the League forward in a new direction,” the joint statement read.