U.S. professional women soccer players scored a goal this week after the Women's Professional Soccer Players Union won recognition through a majority sign-up, certified by an arbitrator with the Women's Professional Soccer (WPS) league.
The new union will represent more than 150 players belonging to seven teams in the league, which is in its second season. Clubs currently exist in Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Hayward in South California, Philadelphia, Piscataway, N.J., and Washington D.C.
The league is considered the highest level of professional soccer for women in North America.
In a statement on its website WPS says the union is an independent, democratic labor organization run by and for WPS players. The players have ultimate control over union activities and bargaining positions, says WPS.
Supporters note that players in almost every other major professional sports league have union representation, and now women's professional soccer is among them.
"Having a unified player voice, and the owners recognizing the significance of that voice, is extremely important," said Erin McLeod, goalkeeper with the Washington Freedom in a press release.
"Forming a union is a great opportunity for both the owners and players to work together in promoting women's soccer, and with the 2011 Women's World Cup less than a year away, the timing couldn't be better," she added.
The 2011 FIFA Women's World Cup is set to kick off next summer in Germany.
Allison Falk, defender with the Philadelphia Independence said, "This is such an exciting time for the WPS. We, as players, are excited to form a union and to be more involved in making the WPS last for the generations of soccer players to come."
According to WPS, players have elected representatives from each club to form an Organizing Committee that plans to elect a five-member Interim Bargaining Committee for the off-season. Both the union and the league look forward to reaching a collective bargaining agreement that will benefit the players.
Eniola Aluko, forward with the Atlanta Beat added, "I feel proud to be a part of something that demonstrates a collective desire among players for the continued growth, development and survival of this amazing league. I look forward to being a part of what has been created."