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Canadian Soccer Association to fund up to 16 players in new women's league

Canadian Soccer Association to fund up to 16 players in new women's league

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A new American women's professional league was announced Wednesday, with the CSA set to foot the bill for its top players to participate.

Despite not having any teams in the upcoming women's professional league, Canada will be well represented when the circuit kicks off next spring.

The Canadian Soccer Association announced Wednesday that it will be paying a number of players in the new league, all of whom will be hand-picked by national team head coach John Herdman.

"We will be funding the player salaries, up to 16 players," CSA president Victor Montagliani told reporters in the conference call that announced the formation of the league.

The players "will be spread out among the eight clubs that will be participating [in the new league]," he said.

"We are hosting the next Women's World Cup in 2015 in six of our cities coast to coast, and for us it's obviously an exciting time for women's football and for football in general, and I think it is a great opportunity to leverage that event into our players playing in a professional environment."

Montagliani called the CSA's involvement in the league an "obvious" fit as it begins preparations for the World Cup in the wake of a heightened awareness for the national team thanks to its bronze-medal performance at last summer's Olympic Games.

"On all fronts, from a player development standpoint and from a business development standpoint, and for the development of the women's game, period, it is something that is a win-win situation," he said.

The Canadian players will join up to 24 Americans and 12 Mexicans who will be funded directly by their respective federations, with the rest of the league's players funded through an as-yet-undecided salary structure.

"I think we'll certainly have some guidelines, I don't know if we'll call it caps or not," United States Soccer Federation boss Sunil Gulati said of the financial specifics regarding non-funded players. "I can't tell you what those are yet, they're not firmly established."

All eight initial clubs will be situated in the United States, with the players allocated through a variety of methods. Montagliani said that while Canadian cities were considered for the inaugural campaign, they "weren't quite ready" to join the league.

"This is not an exclusionary thing," he said. "In terms of a Canadian team, it's something that I think the door's open to as we move forward."