The Western New York Flash had to move their match on Saturday night to a minor league baseball stadium because of a scheduling conflict. The problem is that the baseball stadium was only able to fit a field that was 58 yards wide and, as you can see, that was ludicrously narrow.
The Flash's normal home, the soccer-specific Sahlen's Stadium, was being used for a "90's Throwback" concert featuring TLC. That left them to search for somewhere else to play against the Seattle Reign and Frontier Field was determined to be the best option.
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A spokesman for the NWSL told FOX Soccer that the league normally requires a minimum width 70 yards, but exempted Saturday's venue due to the scheduling conflict.
The Flash announced the venue change on June 24, with general manager Rich Randall saying in a statement: "This is an extremely exciting opportunity to bring pro soccer at its highest level back to Frontier Field."
But some of the biggest names in the NWSL were not happy as USWNT players took to social media to call it unacceptable and tagged NWSL commissioner Jeff Plush in their comments:
@JeffKassouf this is shocking and embarrassing.— Carli Lloyd (@CarliLloyd) July 9, 2016
The league issued a statement late Saturday apologizing for the decision to grant a one-time exemption for the small field: "In retrospect, we made the wrong decision. As a professional league, we need to ensure that the integrity of the game is always respected both on and off the field. We did not do that tonight and we apologize to the NWSL players, coaches and fans."
Rapinoe, who plays for Seattle but was away for USWNT camp, said she did not accept the league's apology:
The ordeal was not a good look for the fledgling NWSL, which is now in its fourth year. It has quickly established itself as one of the top women's leagues in the world due in large part to the entire world-champion USWNT competing in the league -- but the NWSL continues to deal with disparities in facility quality and crowd size around the league.
Jessica Fishlock, who played in the match for the Seattle, made her disappointment known after the match:
It's not about winning or losing ... It's about Respect. Tonight there was non & that's a Shame from such a good League.— Jessica Fishlock (@JessFishlock) July 10, 2016
If anyone benefited from the debacle, it seems it was the Flash, who scored two goals on long throw-ins (that weren't actually very long) and beat the Seattle Reign, 3-2.
A spokesman for the Flash did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
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