They received commitments from a num- ber of major World Cup veterans

After the Cup, the premier players used their new fifa 15 coins clout to press for a more generous contract. Initially the USSF balked, and the players organized their own unofficial tour, playing in indoor stadiums. They received the lion’s share of rev- enue, and this led to considerable friction with the USSF, but it was the only way they saw to receive proper compensation. Ultimately, the pressure helped, and they received a much better compensation package, although the walkout was lengthy and the US had to compete in the Australian Cup in January 2000 without star players. The team was also facing the fact that many of its veteran stars were approaching retirement, as the team struggled to develop its next generation of stars. But many of the players were determined to hang on until the 2000 Olympics. In the very well-attended autumn Victory tour playing major opponents, averaging more than 34,000 fans per game, the fans did not leave disappointed, as the US registered five consecutive victories.

There had been calls for the establishment of a professional women’s league to be in place before the 1999 World Cup, and soon a group was organizing what would be the National Soccer Alliance for 1998. They received commitments from a num- ber of major World Cup veterans, but financing fell through and the effort collapsed. People felt it would be better to make an attempt after the Cup with more solid financial footing. For now, the W-League would suffice, although the West Coast teams broke away and joined with top amateur clubs to form the Women’s Pre- mier Soccer League. For a brief time there was the danger that two leagues would be formed, one headed by John Hendricks, CEO of Discovery Corporation, and another proposed by Major League Soccer. MLS already had a going operation, but the Hendricks proposal was backed by $40 million from major media companies. Hendricks was able to get sanctioning for his Women’s United Soccer Association, with a partnership agreement between WUSA and MLS promising to work to the benefit of both parties. Eight cities were awarded franchises, spanning the country. Nearly the entire national team was signed by the league, and, in the draft, world stars, the cream of W-League talent, and college drafts filled the squads. WUSA started off well and improved rapidly through the inaugural season. Attendance was predicted at 4,000 to 6,000 per game but averaged close to 8,000, yet TV ratings did not meet expectations.

Women’s involvement is therefore central to the divergent interpretations of American soccer. From an international vantage point, the state of women’s soccer in the US generates envy as considerable participation sits alongside elite success. It would seem that a nondiscriminatory public policy and the absence of male resis- tance have opened soccer pitches to women at college level. Yet, in spite of mass participation and elite success, women’s football remains separate and unequal in terms of resources, participation and prestige. The perceived ‘feminization’, Sugden proposes, ‘supports the view of soccer as a game for second-rate athletes unable to contend with the masculine rigors of the home-grown variety of football ... as long as soccer is viewed as a game for foreigners, rich white kids and women, its chances of becoming established as a mainstream professional sport there are minimal.’