NWSL, players reach first-ever collective bargaining agreement with new salary standards

The National Women's Soccer League Players Association and the NWSL both announced on Monday that the two sides had reached a collective bargaining agreement, the first of its kind in the league's 10-year history.

Per the NWSL, the agreement is for five years through the 2026 season, pending approval by the league's board of governors. The NWSLPA formed in 2017, five years after the 2012 founding of the NWSL.

“Tonight, the NWSL Players Association ratified the first-ever Collective Bargaining agreement in NSWL history,” an NWSLPA statement reads. “Subject to approval by the NWSL board of governors, players will report to preseason camp tomorrow with the safety, security and protections of a collectively bargained contract that sets the NWSL on a positive trajectory for the future.”

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What's in the CBA

Per the NWSL, the contract raises the minimum and average salaries of NWSL players, defines a path to free agency and and sets benefits in place including vacation time and paid parental leave. Per the deal, the minimum salary will increase from $22,000 to $35,000 per year while the average yearly total compensation package will increase 30% from 2021 to $54,000 and contain benefits including free housing, health and life insurance and vested 401k programs.

HERRIMAN, UTAH - JULY 17: An NWSL logo sign before the quarterfinal match of the NWSL Challenge Cup between the Houston Dash and the Utah Royals FC at Zions Bank Stadium on July 17, 2020 in Herriman, Utah.  (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
The NWSL and its players reached a first ever CBA. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

The plan provides a path to 10% sharing of broadcast revenues with players if the league shows a profit in the final three years of the CBA. By 2024, players who have five years of service will be eligible for unrestricted free agency while players with three years of service will reach restricted free agency.


The plan provides for 42 vacation days per year, parental leave for new parents, leave and salary continuation for pregnant players and mental health leave for up to six months. Teams will also be required to provide access to health services and employ physicians as their medical directors.

The NWSL states that the new parameters laid out by the CBA project to require an additional investment of nearly $100 million by team owners.

CBA arrives after tumultuous year for NWSL

The agreement arrives nearly a year after negotiations began in March 2021 an on the heels of a tumultuous season that saw players protest a widespread sexual harassment and coercion scandal. Several of the league's head coaches were dismissed amid allegations of abuse and misconduct, including Chicago Red Stars coach Rory Dame and Washington Spirit coach Richie Burke, both of whom coached their teams in the league's championship game last season.

“This is a historic moment for women’s soccer in the United States," interim NWSL CEO Marla Messing said, via a statement. "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."