NWSL Board of Governors Approves New Labor Agreement

The Board of Governors of the National Women’s Soccer League approved its historic collective agreement with the players on Tuesday.

The players’ association announced late Monday that it had ratified the deal, which includes a significant increase to the league’s minimum wage and ladder increases for players above the minimum.

The ABC was finalized the same day the players reported for the team’s training camps. The NWSL enters its 10th season as the top women’s professional league in the United States and two new teams, Angel City and the San Diego Wave, join the league.

This contract is a first for women’s professional football in the United States.

“It’s really going to make us one of the best leagues for a long time,” said Houston Dash player Katie Naughton. “It will attract a lot of international talent and keep national players here.”

The CBA runs through the 2026 season. Among the provisions is a minimum wage of $35,000 — an increase of nearly 60% — with annual increases of 4%. All players will see salary increases, as well as matching contributions to the pension fund from 2023, life and health insurance and housing allowances.

When the NWSL launched in 2013, the minimum wage was $6,000 and last season it was $22,000. The players’ association said about a third of its members earned the league’s minimum wage last season, while about 75% earned less than $33,000.

The CBA allows free agency starting in 2023 for players with a six-year minimum, and drops to a five-year minimum in 2024.

The agreement also includes eight weeks of parental leave and up to six months of paid mental health leave, as well as provisions for the safety of playgrounds and medical staff. The union said it would release the full agreement in the coming weeks.

Orlando Pride striker Sydney Leroux called the new contract “really, really special”.

“I think the first-ever CBA and women’s soccer in this country is really, really special. And the people working behind the scenes, the AP, everything, it was amazing,” she said after the first. team training. “They’ve put in so much work and we’re so grateful and thankful to finally have a CBA in place. So we’re really excited for that.”

Yael Averbuch, former player and current general manager of Gotham FC, founded the NWSLPA in 2017 with current executive director, Meghann Burke. The ABC was the culmination of the process she started.

“We can’t have a strong performing NWSL without performing strong players,” Averbuch said in a tweet. “This contract represents a coming of age for women’s professional soccer in the United States.”

The labor agreement comes after a turbulent year.

Last September, two former NWSL players came forward to accuse longtime coach Paul Riley, then with North Carolina Courage, of harassment and sexual coercion. He was fired and the commissioner of the NWSL resigned following the charges.

In all, five coaches have been fired or resigned over reports of inappropriate behavior.

Players have suggested that without CBA, they might not show up to teams for training camps. But on Tuesday, league teams announced preseason rosters and plenty of training sessions.

“This first transformative CBA for women’s soccer will provide the foundation for the game’s growth and well-deserved player safety for the next five years, while also representing an investment of nearly $100 million to ensure the NWSL remains the best women’s soccer league in the world,” North Carolina Courage owner Steve Malik said in a statement. “We couldn’t be happier to raise the standards of professionalism in our sport to new levels for the good players.”

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Naomi C. Amerson