Less than three months removed from winning the NWSL Championship it appears that the Western New York Flash are set to abandon New York for North Carolina.
Excelle Sports and 442 are reporting that North Carolina FC has acquired the Flash, who played in Rochester while training in Buffalo, with the intention of moving the title holders to North Carolina and reports that the former Carolina RailHawks have scheduled a major press conference on Monday, January 9, would seem to lend credence to the story.
North Carolina FC rebranded just last month, changing its name from the RailHawks and stating its ambition to become an MLS franchise. NCFC currently plays in the third division USL and had also let it be known that it was in the market for an NWSL team.
That it has come so quickly and through relocation rather than expansion is surely a surprise. Also a bit unexpected is that the league is setting up shop in North Carolina, a state mired in controversy over House Bill 2 (HB2), often referred to as the bathroom bill” and considered by civil rights groups and LGBTQ advocates to be the most anti-LGBT bill in the country
The bill has caused the NBA to pull its All-Star Game from the state and the NCAA followed suit with its decision to move all seven previously awarded championship events from North Carolina during the 2016-17 academic year. The NCAA announced that its Board of Governors had taken this decision “because of the cumulative actions taken by the state concerning civil rights protections.”
HB2 requires transgender people to use the restroom that corresponds to the sex on their birth certificate, rather than their self-identified gender.
North Carolina FC owner Steven Malik and NWSL Commissioner Jeff Plush will surely be asked about HB2 on Monday.