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Jesse Compher of USA and goalie Nana Fujimoto of Japan in action during the IIHF Women’s Ice Hockey World Championships quarterfinal match between USA and Japan in Espoo, Finland, Thursday, April 11, 2019. (Markku Ulander/Lehtikuva via AP)

(Philadelphia) — More than 200 of the world’s top female players have taken the next step toward a viable professional league by forming a union.

The Professional Women’s Hockey Association said Monday the paperwork was filed Friday.

The women had announced this month their pledge to sit out the upcoming season in North America after the Canadian Women’s Hockey League abruptly shut down this year. That leaves only the National Women’s Hockey League, which took back control of the Buffalo Beauts on May 8.

The PWHPA says in a statement the association will help players coordinate training needs and opportunities and develop sponsor support.