Facing some big issues after reports of widespread player abuse surfaced, the NWSL has hired industry vet Marla Messing as the new interim CEO.
Messing’s leadership experience within the sports industry includes serving as President and Chief Executive Officer of the 1999 FIFA Women’s World Cup. As the league’s interim CEO, Messing will oversee the day-to-day operations and work in close coordination with the board of governors to execute on key initiatives that will promote actionable, sustainable change and measurable progress across the league.
There will also be a slight change in the overall leadership structure as well: the executive committee of Amanda Duffy, Angie Long and Sophie Sauvage will dissolve. The global search for a permanent Commissioner remains underway and will be led by a search committee comprised of current board members. The board intends to retain a national search firm to ensure a diverse and broad set of candidates are considered for the position. The board has also agreed that representatives of the Players Association will have an opportunity to meet with potential Commissioner candidates and have a meaningful opportunity to be heard in the selection of the next Commissioner.
Messing brings to the role a broad set of sports experiences, having most recently served as Chief Executive Officer of USTA Southern California. Throughout her career, she has held a number of executive roles for sports institutions including the Los Angeles Olympic/Paralympic Bid Committee, FIFA World Cup and Women’s World Cup, and Major League Soccer. In 2019, Mayor Eric Garcetti appointed Messing to the city’s Commission on the Status of Women.
“First and foremost, I am honored to have the opportunity to help lead the NWSL and fully embrace the abundantly clear need to transform the league so that player welfare is central to every discussion and decision,” Messing said via press release. “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. 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.”
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