On Thursday’s national conference call previewing the inaugural National Women’s Soccer League season, league executive director Cheryl Bailey said players’ salaries will range from $6,000-$30,000.
The majority of players in the NWSL will never see anything close to that top figure. Some of the better free agents in the league are earning under $20,000 and Canadian and Mexican national team players are also in the middle of that range. That sort of pay is comparable to the final season (2011) of Women’s Professional Soccer, when salaries dropped significantly. But at that point for WPS, the damage was already done.
The higher end of that range, no doubt, accounts for some of the US players. It’s important to remember that their salaries are paid in addition to what they get from the federation for being on the national team. Those details — of which we don’t yet have much clarity — were all worked out in the new collective bargaining agreement that was just signed.
Comparatively, Megan Rapinoe is making about as much in a month for French champion Lyon as some players in the NWSL will make for the entire five-month season. That’s no slight on Rapinoe (who, along with others, deserves such pay) or the NWSL, just the reality of the situations. According to a New York Times article this week (a very good read, by the way), Rapinoe makes about $14,000 per month with Lyon.
When you are talking about Lyon, you are talking about a club backed by a successful men’s team, so that changes things. Lyon, by the way, just clinched their 7th consecutive French league title. Lyon is in the semifinals of the UEFA Champions League, looking for its third-straight European crown.
The NWSL is a start-up focused on controlling costs — something WUSA failed miserably at and WPS, despite being hyper aware of WUSA’s failures, also couldn’t master. Player salaries are a massive expense. For now, these are the realities women’s pro soccer players face.