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Volume 21 No. 26
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WNBPA, U.S. women’s national soccer team players association get four new licensing deals through REP Worldwide

REP Worldwide has signed four companies as the first licensees for WNBA and U.S. women’s national soccer team players.

REP Worldwide was formed by the NFL Players Association’s business arm, NFL Players Inc., last November with the unions for the players, the Women’s National Basketball Players Association and the U.S. Women’s National Team Players Association, as founding partners. REP stands for Representing Every Player, and the NFLPA is the majority stakeholder, while the two players associations have equity stakes as well.

The first licensees are Strideline, Build-A-Head, Original Retro Brand and Ruffneck Scarves. Financial details were not disclosed, but Steven Scebelo, NFL Players Inc. vice president of licensing and business development, said all of the deals are at least three years in length. 

Strideline, a sock company, and Build-A-Head, which produces cutouts of people’s faces and likenesses, are partnering with both the basketball and soccer unions. Ruffneck Scarves, which produces scarves that soccer fans wear as a sign of support, is partnering with the soccer union only. Original Retro Brand, which produces T-shirts, long-sleeved shirts and hoodies, is partnering with the WNBA union only.

Among the licensees that REP Worldwide has signed are Ruffneck Scarves, such as for U.S. women’s soccer star Alex Morgan, and Strideline socks, like those featuring Kelsey Plum of the WNBA Las Vegas Aces (below).

All four licensed companies will produce specialized product featuring the intellectual property of the players, including their names, images, likenesses and numbers.

A strong selling point on behalf of the athletes was their involvement on social media platforms, Scebelo said.

“The women’s players — especially in both basketball and soccer — the players have very high engagement levels among their followers,” Scebelo said. “Their followers listen to what they have to say, they respond to what they have to say and we think it’s going to lead to product sales.”

Lindsay Kagawa Colas, Wasserman senior vice president who specializes in representing female athletes, said she appreciates the REP Worldwide effort and is excited about the first licensee deals.

“These first movers will be rewarded for their foresight in filling the void of WNBA player-branded merchandise,” Colas said. “We have heard fans asking for it for years.”

REP Worldwide was formed to help athletes who don’t have advanced group licensing and marketing departments. Last month, REP Worldwide announced it had added the U.S. Rugby Players Association, which represents men and women players on the U.S. Eagles and Sevens teams.