SBD/April 4, 2013/Leagues and Governing Bodies

New Women’s Soccer League Pursues Different Model, Seeking To Avoid Previous Failures

The National Women's Soccer League is “showing signs that its officials have learned from the missteps of past leagues” for women's soccer, according to Allison McCann of BLOOMBERG BUSINESSWEEK. NWSL Exec Dir Cheryl Bailey said, “We asked ourselves: Is there another model we can look out, is there something we can do to have a league and have it be sustainable?” Instead of “trying to fill MLS stadiums and paying players half a million dollars,” the league has “opted to build something slowly over time.” One “major change has allowed any of this to happen," which is the USSF has “agreed to finance the US national team players.” Prior to the NWSL draft, three American, two Canadian and two Mexican national team players “were allocated to each team and will be paid by their respective soccer federations, leaving a $200,000 salary cap to be divided among the remaining 13 players on a 20-roster squad.” Split evenly, this means “about $15,000 per player, but already some teams are reportedly paying players as low as $6,000 for a five-month season.” For most teams, like FC Kansas City, venues “will cost around $1,500 per game.” The Portland Thorns are the first women’s pro team “to fall under the ownership of an MLS team,” the Timbers, and “will have free access to their facilities.” Bailey: “It’s great that we have an MLS team with [an] NWSL team.” McCann noted the “immediate future of women’s professional soccer looks, for the first time, relatively stable -- which means professional female athletes will continue to make $6,000, live with host families, do their own laundry, and play in high-school football stadiums in order for the league to survive” (BUSINESSWEEK.com, 4/2).

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