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The OSC Interview: National Women's Soccer League President Amanda Duffy

by Fran Stuchbury
April 16, 2019 - National Women's Soccer League (NWSL)

OurSports Central contributor Fran Stuchbury and other members of the media spoke to National Women's Soccer League President Amanda Duffy at halftime of the North Carolina Courage game vs. the Chicago Red Stars game at WakeMed Soccer Park Saturday. Duffy joined the NWSL in January 2017 as Managing Director of Operations and became the public face of the NWSL just a few months later when NWSL Commissioner Jeff Plush stepped down. Duffy was promoted to Managing Director for the NWSL in 2018 before being named President on January 15th. Duffy also held positions of General Manager and President of the United Soccer League's Louisville City FC from 2014 until 2016.

Media: On the NWSL off season and where league matters stand now:

Amanda Duffy: Once again it was a busy off season. We are always happy when the season gets underway. We feel the league's at its best when the players are on the field and the fans are in the stadium. Thrilled to be kicking off season seven today. Proud to be here in North Carolina, the defending champions; a rematch of last years semifinal.

I think this season is really going be special for this league; provide a solid foundation and framework for what's going to come for the years ahead. I am really happy about that, happy about where we are at with a lot of things.

The separation of the A&E relationship was an unexpected situation that arose in the off-season. As we are now in more control of things and what the future looks like in our commercial areas. I feel very good where we are at within the back-end work of things going on now.

Media: This offseason the A&E Network ended its relationship with the league. Now Yahoo! Sports is streaming all NWSL games online this season. Are there any plans to add a linear television package in addition to what is online?

Duffy: We are in some later stage discussions with some broadcast opportunities for the second half of the NWSL season. Separately we will engage on future broadcast arrangements shortly after we have everything for 2019 in place.

Fran Stuchbury: On the Women's World Cup that takes place from June 7th until July 7th, giving the league additional exposure for its players and a chance to make more fans aware of the NWSL:

Duffy: Absolutely, we saw that in Canada with the 2015 Women's World Cup. The Women's World Cup provides this sport the biggest and best stage for women's soccer. For us to have the representation from the players... who are representing NWSL clubs while playing for their respective national associations... to have the visibility from a fan support standpoint, from a broadcast standpoint and a viewership standpoint, I feel like we will have more eyes on the game and more eyes and awareness and engagement with NWSL through our association with players.

We saw it in 2015 and anticipate that in 2019. All our clubs are stronger position to capture new fans that are showing interest in this league and retaining them as longer-term returning fans to support these players.

Media: On where the NWSL championship game will be held and when will that determination be made:

Duffy: There are ongoing discussions with the location of the championship and we anticipate that information to be shared soon. At this time the championship will be at a predetermined site.

Media: Atlanta has had a lot of success so far with its Major League Soccer franchise in a short period of time. Is that a market the NWSL may be thinking about in terms of expansion?

Duffy: It's certainly a market that has proven support for the sport and through that we recognize that there can be a good opportunity for expansion in that market, but a lot of things factor into expansion. There is a timing that every organization has, so this is a commitment for any expansion team looking to join the NWSL, so the timing has to be right for anyone considering it.

Media: On the North Carolina Courage hosting this year's Women's International Champions Cup August 15th through August 18th. Will more NWSL teams get involved with that in the future?

Duffy: We will see. We are thrilled to have North Carolina participate in the tournament. They did last year as well. We feel the appropriate evolution with the NWSL involved is to have that tournament here hosted by a NWSL team. That will allow our NWSL supporters to be more engaged with the tournament. North Carolina (will be) more involved with the execution of the tournament. We feel like there are more commercial opportunities for any NWSL team involved as well. Happy for the Courage, they won the tournament last year. Some highly competitive teams are part of the tournament. Happy for them and the fans that will be able to support soccer that will be at the games.

Media: On some NWSL media people leaving during the off season such as the long-time NWSL communications director. Were those departures expected? Where is the league front office from a staffing point of view now?

Duffy: Sure, none of those departures were expected but when you go through a transition that we are going through, particularly with our partnership with A&E networks not continuing, there was a lot of support that was provided by A&E Networks and obviously the NWSL media is based in New York and the league is based in Chicago. A lot of factors go into decisions that are being made right now. Again, none of the departures were anticipated immediately but we feel good where we are at with the hiring process in our positions. We are very much focused on that any hires we make are strong, have a high level of experience and are in a position to make longterm charting the course for NWSL as it goes forward.

Some positions are not going be refilled until certain other positions are filled first. There is a process we are going through right now and it may create some full-time filling of responsibilities by other individuals at the league office, but we are doing it to the best of our ability that we will have all the positions filled with quality individuals that will be part of this league going forward.

Fran Stuchbury: On being happy that NWSL players are not just role models on the field but off the field as well, like them being involved in the communities with kids at schools:

Duffy: These are remarkable women and they represent the league, their communities, their teams and themselves in such a wonderful way, a way we all can be proud of!

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