After training for several weeks with Calgary Foothills FC of the USL’s Premier Development League, Canadian women’s national team goalkeeper Stephanie Labbé has been told she won't be allowed to suit up for the club in actual league play. According to the PDL, its “gender-based eligibility requirements” prevent the Olympic bronze medallist from playing men’s professional soccer.
Labbé had apparently made the cut with Calgary’s squad, and she was set to suit up for the development side before the league informed her she was ineligible. In a post on her personal blog, Labbé included a statement of her reaction to the news:
“While I partially understand the league’s stance on this, it is still unsettling. There are moments that stick with us for life, and I believe this is one of them for me. We let others tell us what path we can or can not take or we find a new one on our own. This may be the first road block, but hearing ‘no’ doesn’t mean the end, it just means we have to find a diversion around the problem.”
Her post also cites the existence of women’s professional leagues as a factor in the PDL’s decision not to allow her to play. Apparently, Labbé will not even be allowed to appeal the decision because of the existence of leagues like the NWSL (in which she recently played, with the Washington Spirit).
According to CBC, the 31-year-old keeper will actually be unable to join any women’s teams this season, since the transfer deadline has passed for most leagues. She could potentially seek out a club in Europe.
Waking the Red first reported on her trial with the Foothills in March, when she first revealed the details of her tryout. Labbé came to Calgary after stints in the NWSL and Swedish women’s league, as well as an extremely illustrious track record with the Canadian national team.