Murphy: We’ll Change the ‘Not Acceptable’ Treatment of My Soccer Team
TRENTON — Amidst allegations that members of the Sky Blue FC pro women's soccer team he owns are living in terrible conditions and their home field at Rutgers lacks proper facilities, Gov. Phil Murphy has ordered improvements be made.
In a statement provided to NorthJersey.com, Murphy said that women athletes, like their male counterparts, deserve a "first-rate experience" on and off the field.
"It is clear that the players on Sky Blue FC have not consistently received such treatment. That is simply not acceptable. That's why, although we don't manage day-to-day operations, fellow owner Steve Temares and I have required accountability from team management to improve working conditions for players. Although our staff is dedicated and hardworking and some progress has already been made, more work remains to be done," Murphy, a majority owner of the team, said.
The team is winless this season through its first 14 games in the National Women's Soccer League, with a record of 0-12-3. Their next game is Saturday vs. Portland Thorns FC at Yurcak Field at Rutgers University in Piscataway. Their season runs through Sept. 8.
"I don't find the status quo tolerable — and these players deserve better. They deserve to operate in a professional and supportive environment so they can do what they do best — play the game, inspire fans, and build community through the power of the world's most popular sport."
Murphy released the statement after the soccer news site The Equalizer reported that they talked to a half dozen players and others affiliated with the team who said the team was housed in facilities with plastic bags for windows and used practice facilities at Rutgers that did not have showers, according to an NJ.com report.
The reports also said that Olympian Carli Lloyd of Delran, who is a member of Sky Blue, had to use a 50-gallon trash can in order to take an ice bath. The team also did not have a laundry service to clean its practice gear.
Improvements may already be on the way. Equalizer writer Allison Lee, on her Twitter account, posted a photo of an RV trailer moved into the practice facility with running water, a shower, and a bathroom. Lee said the team previously only had a port-a-potty for a bathroom.
The governor noted that the team "has not been remotely financially successful" and that the NWSL has struggled.
"But our commitment to women's soccer has not wavered and our sole motivation — ensuring women had an opportunity to play professionally in the U.S. — remains to this day," Murphy wrote.