Soccer

NWSL names longtime sports executive Marla Messing as interim CEO

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The National Women’s Soccer League named long-tenured sports executive Marla Messing as interim CEO in an announcement on Monday. The decision is the first and last major hire the newly formed NWSL executive committee will make. 

The committee, composed of three women representing three franchises — Amanda Duffy (Orlando Pride), Angie Long (KC NWSL), and Sophie Sauvage (OL Reign) — worked with the board of governors to make the new hire and will now dissolve as Messing takes on the new interim CEO role.   

The executive committee was initially formed after the departure and resignation of Lisa Baird as NWSL commissioner in wake of a tumultuous period which featured multiple scandals throughout the league, including allegations of sexual coercion and abuse by former North Carolina Courage coach Paul Riley and an investigation of workplace toxicity involving the Washington Spirit

The board released the following statement:

“Marla is a well-respected and highly experienced sports industry executive and we are pleased to welcome her to the league. Her extensive background and passion to see the NWSL succeed serve as a strong foundation for her leadership and for navigating significant decisions moving forward to improve our policies and culture. We will assist Marla throughout her transition as she takes on the current responsibilities of the executive committee. On behalf of the board of governors, we look forward to working alongside her and together with our players developing a better path forward for the NWSL.”

Messing was previously the CEO of United States Tennis Association Southern California from 2019 to 2021. She has an extensive background in sports that includes stints as vice president and executive director of the 2024/2028 Los Angeles Olympic and Paralympic Bid Committee, and as a consultant to Major League Soccer’s Los Angeles FC and FC Barcelona in 2018. Her experience in women’s soccer is notable as the former president and CEO of the 1999 Women’s World Cup for US Soccer, arguably considered one of the launching pads for the popularity of the sport for women in the United States.

Messing is expected to step into the new position to oversee the day-to-day operations and work with the board of governors to execute key initiatives that league recently announced after NWSL Players Association put forth a list of demands after reports of sexual misconduct and harassment from former head coach Paul Riley were published. The initiatives are aimed to “promote actionable, sustainable change and measurable progress across the league.”



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