September 22, 2022


Feature Story


The Women’s Independent Soccer League (WISL), the women’s professional league that soft-launched in 2021, today announced the appointment of soccer industry veteran Lynn Berling-Manuel as managing director. She will lead the league’s sanctioning application to play its inaugural professional season.

Berling-Manuel brings a wealth of expertise in building soccer companies, organizations and communities. Her foundational soccer knowledge was built over 20 years as editor-in-chief and CEO of Soccer America Communications LLC, publisher of Soccer America magazine, Soccer America Daily, and a portfolio of digital daily and weekly soccer publications.

She subsequently served for seven years as chief marketing officer at the American Youth Soccer Organization. With more than 500,000 players at that time, it is the world’s largest single-entity youth soccer club. In 2015, she then became the first woman CEO in the 80-year history of United Soccer Coaches, the largest coaches’ association in the world. Under her leadership the organization successfully rebranded from -the National Soccer Coaches Association of America as it expanded its focus on advocating for its thousands of member coaches. She stepped down from the association last December to launch a strategic development consulting practice.

Working with Lynn already has been energizing to the WISL organization as it continues to develop. She has been an intricate part for the last few months providing thoughtful general counsel to the core team. Her relationships, strategic drive, and historical perspective will be instrumental as WISL helps to change the landscape of women’s soccer in the United States.

“Leading the development of WISL is an exciting new challenge,” says Berling-Manuel. “Its business model follows the global standard of a league of independent clubs rather than franchises. What is important to WISL is that it is founded on a vision, mission and core cultural values. It has been a rewarding opportunity to help the league first find its ‘why’ in the often complicated American soccer landscape.

“Most importantly, WISL is building a team with the experience, talent and energy to forge new opportunities for women on the pitch and in the front office,” she adds.

Even with the deepest pool of talent in the world, investment in the professional women’s game in North America dramatically lags behind men’s soccer. Opportunities are growing, but are still too few after a woman player graduates from the college game. By 2024, there is still only expected to be 14 clubs in Division I. WISL will be a big part of providing more pro-eligible players an opportunity to play on the professional level.

WISL is applying to the United States Soccer Federation for Division II sanctioning, targeting 2024 for its inaugural season. WISL is a wholly owned subsidiary of Equality Football and is not affiliated with the World Surfing League (WSL). Discover more about WISL at, as well as on Instagram and Facebook (@WISLeague) and Twitter (@WISL_League).