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NWSL and players agree first CBA

Five-season deal raises minimum player pay, as well as offering revenue share and improved health benefits.

1 February 2022 Ed Dixon

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  • Minimum salary to increase 60% to US$35k
  • Players able to receive 10% of net broadcast revenues if NWSL is profitable in years three, four and five of CBA
  • Agreement also guarantees parental and mental health leave, as well as limits on maximum number of games

The National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) and the NWSL Players Association (NWSLPA) have struck their first-ever collective bargaining agreement (CBA), which will run for the next five seasons until the end of 2026.

The CBA, which is subject to final approval from the NWSL board of governors, will raise the minimum player salary by almost 60 per cent year-over-year (YoY) to US$35,000. Total compensation will increase by more than 30 per cent compared to the 2021 season to US$54,000.

In addition to an increase in total compensation, such as for certain commercial appearances by players, revenue sharing will be introduced. This includes the opportunity for players to receive ten per cent of net broadcast revenues if the NWSL is profitable in years three, four and five of the CBA.

The league will also introduce free agency from 2023, which players will get if they have been in the NWSL for six years. In 2024, those that have spent three years in the league will receive restricted free agency, while players that have played five years will obtain full free agency.

The CBA ensures a fixed season with start and end windows, as well as limits on the maximum number of games in a season and frequency of games. Players will be guaranteed 42 days of holiday, a seven-day in season summer break, parental leave, salary continuation if they become pregnant, and mental health leave for up to six months.

Furthermore, the CBA means teams must provide improved health and wellness benefits, including a physician, sports scientist and psychologist. The NWSL has also committed US$255,000 to US$300,000 per year for group license rights.

The collective bargaining process got underway in late 2020, according to the NWSL.

“This is a historic moment for women’s soccer in the United States. This transformative agreement represents deserved advancements for our players, including significantly stronger compensation packages and benefits, enhanced training and playing environments, and a long-term commitment to continually improve the standards we all regard as essential to securing our position as the best women’s soccer league in the world,” said Marla Messing, NWSL interim chief executive.

“Our owners are committed to providing the significant and unprecedented investment required to build and sustain a professional women’s soccer league that properly supports our players, both as professional soccer players and as individuals.”

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