NWSLPA, OneTeam Partner for Group Licensing Deal as CBA Opens Door

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OneTeam Partners and the National Women’s Soccer League Players Association (NWSLPA) have agreed to an exclusive multiyear licensing partnership. The licensing giant will represent and manage the group rights for the 300-plus players in the league’s union and the NWSLPA itself with the goal of maximizing their commercial value as the league and its players continue to grow in popularity.

No financial terms were disclosed, though OneTeam said its cut of revenue is standard across all of its deals. Elected player representatives are still ironing out how revenue will be divided between players and their union on the NWSLPA side. The partnership is, however, already underway, and both parties say deals are forthcoming.

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Independent group licensing is new for NWSL players. After lengthy negotiations that were almost derailed by a league-wide abuse scandal, the NWSL and the NWSLPA ratified a collective bargaining agreement in January—a first for any professional women’s soccer league in the U.S.—that gave players control of their own group rights, which were  previously held by the league. It was one of several milestones marked in the CBA, which runs through 2026, alongside things like free agency and the possibility of revenue sharing.

“A massive piece of what we consider the victories of the CBA negotiation was players taking back their group name, image and likeness rights, [where] we see a tremendous commercial opportunity,” Meghann Burke, NWSLPA executive director, said in an interview. “Frankly, there has been an under-supply and over-demand of products for fans like replica jerseys, trading cards and video games. We know fans want these products and we know the popularity of players drives those products.”

Burke called the decision to choose OneTeam to manage those newly retained rights a “no-brainer.” In addition to the popular sports licensing entry points outlined by Burke, OneTeam will look to strike a broad range of deals for the NWSLPA across digital, apparel, hardline retail and experiential categories.

“It was really obvious to us from the beginning that OneTeam has both the capacity and the expertise to drive a group licensing program,” she said. “We’re thrilled to work with them to capitalize on this opportunity and generate incremental revenue back to players and to support the Players Association.”

The NWSLPA joins a growing group of OneTeam clients. The organization currently represents the commercial interests of more than 4,000 athletes including the U.S. Women’s National Team Players Association and the WNBPA, as well as the MLSPA, NFLPA, MLBPA and U.S. Rugby PA. It also works with college athletes, partnering with companies including trading card manufacturer Panini and e-commerce giant Fanatics to produce customizable college football jerseys in light of college athlete’s gaining access to their NIL.

“We’re super excited about the possibilities with NWSLPA,” Eric Winston, chief partnerships officer at OneTeam Partners said. “Soccer has become a sizable part of who we represent, so we’re understanding that landscape more and more every day and there’s something analogous on the gender side with the WNBPA. … We know what the market is, we know what licensees are paying different [players associations] and other entities. So we’re able to really leverage that on behalf of the NWSLPA and make sure the athletes are getting their fair share of their NIL.”

OneTeam launched in late 2019 as a joint venture between the NFLPA, MLBPA and RedBird Capital, aimed at helping athletes capitalize on the growing value of their brands, particularly in areas of marketing and group licensing.

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