Thursday, 25 Jul 2024

An Inside Look at NWSL Salaries: Women’s Soccer Players Making Strides

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For the first time ever, the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) has guaranteed its players a living wage with the signing of the league’s Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) in 2022. This landmark agreement not only increased salaries but also brought about several other positive changes. Let’s take an in-depth look at NWSL salaries and how they compare to other leagues.

NWSL Salaries — What Do Women’s Soccer Players Make?

Before the CBA was agreed upon, NWSL players earned a minimum salary of $22,000, which was $10,000 below the living wage threshold. This meant that around 75 percent of players were not making a living wage, forcing many to take up second or third jobs to sustain themselves.

With the new CBA, all NWSL players are now guaranteed a salary of $35,000, ensuring a living wage for everyone involved.

Minimum NWSL Salaries

  • 2021: $22,000
  • 2022: $35,000

Maximum NWSL Salaries (Before Allocation Money)

  • 2020: $50,000
  • 2022: $75,000

Furthermore, the CBA stipulates that NWSL minimum salaries will increase by four percent each season. This increase not only brings all players above the $35,000 minimum threshold but also allows for overall salary raises. The average total compensation has been raised to $54,000, a significant improvement compared to the maximum salary of $50,000 in 2020.

It’s worth noting that national team players also receive additional income from their respective federations for appearances in international matches, allowing them to supplement their earnings.

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NWSL Salary Cap

The NWSL salary cap for 2022 is set at $1.1 million, with an additional $500,000 allocated for player acquisition and retention. This substantial increase in the salary cap allows NWSL clubs to afford higher-paying contracts and compete for top talents. With this change, the league now has the potential to attract and retain players of the caliber of Sam Kerr, who previously left the NWSL for a more lucrative deal with Chelsea FC.

NWSL Salaries — Bonuses

The new CBA also outlines minimum bonuses for various achievements, including winning the NWSL Championship, being named to the Best XI, and more. Here are the minimum bonus amounts:

  • NWSL Shield: $5,000
  • NWSL Champion: $5,000
  • NWSL Runner-Up: $3,750
  • NWSL Semifinalist: $2,500
  • NWSL Quarterfinalist: $1,250
  • Challenge Cup Champion: $1,000*
  • Challenge Cup Runner-Up: $500*
  • Best XI Award: $5,000
  • Rookie of the Year: $5,000
  • Most Valuable Player: $5,000
  • Golden Boot: $5,000
  • Defender of the Year: $5,000
  • Goalkeeper of the Year: $5,000
  • All-Star Bonus: $2,000 (if held)

These minimum bonuses not only provide recognition for outstanding performances but also serve as additional financial incentives for players.

NWSL Salaries And Benefits

In addition to improved salaries, the new CBA also introduces a range of benefits for NWSL players, including health insurance, life insurance, long-term disability insurance, housing options, relocation assistance, and more. Here’s a rundown of the benefits:

  • Health insurance: Comprehensive medical, dental, and vision coverage at no cost to players
  • Life insurance: A minimum coverage of $50,000 per player
  • Long-term disability: Insurance benefits paid for by the NWSL
  • Housing: Either team-provided housing or a monthly housing stipend
  • Relocation: Financial assistance for moving expenses and compensation for breaking a lease
  • Automobiles: Access to shared team cars or a monthly stipend
  • Retirement savings: A 401(k) plan with matching contributions from the NWSL
  • Profit sharing: Players may receive a percentage of net media/broadcasting revenues if the league becomes profitable
  • Per diem: Payment for meals while traveling
  • Parental leave: Eight weeks of fully paid leave for birth or adoption
  • Vacation and time off: Generous leave allowances and time-off provisions
  • Mental health support: Access to sports psychology services
  • Tuition benefit: Subsidized education programs
  • Promotional compensation: Additional income for promotional appearances
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These benefits not only provide players with financial security but also support their overall well-being and professional development.

NWSL Salaries Compared To Other Leagues

To put NWSL salaries into perspective, let’s compare them to other prominent leagues in women’s sports.

FA WSL Salaries

In the FA Women’s Super League (FA WSL) in England, where the competition level is similar to the NWSL, minimum salaries start at around $24,482 per year, with reports suggesting that some players earn even less. The maximum salary in the FA WSL is reportedly $250,000, though this figure has been disputed. Unlike the NWSL, the FA WSL does not have a salary cap.

WNBA Salaries

In the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA), minimum salaries start at $60,471, surpassing the minimum NWSL salary. The average WNBA salary is approximately $120,648, with top players earning as much as $228,094. The WNBA salary cap for 2022 was set at $1.38 million.

MLS Salaries

In Major League Soccer (MLS), the men’s professional soccer league in the United States, the minimum salary for senior players is $84,000, higher than the NWSL minimum. The maximum salary for non-Designated Players is $612,500, with Designated Players having no maximum salary. The MLS salary cap for 2022 is $4.9 million, not including Designated Player contracts.

While the NWSL salaries still lag behind the WNBA and MLS, the new CBA represents a significant step forward for women’s soccer. The league is steadily improving, and with increased financial stability, it has the potential to attract and retain top talent, ensuring the continued growth and success of women’s soccer in the United States.

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Q: How much do NWSL players make?
A: NWSL players now earn a minimum salary of $35,000, with the potential for higher salaries depending on performance and bonuses.

Q: How does the NWSL salary cap compare to other leagues?
A: The NWSL salary cap for 2022 is $1.1 million, while the WNBA salary cap is $1.38 million and the MLS salary cap stands at $4.9 million.

Q: What benefits do NWSL players receive?
A: NWSL players receive various benefits, such as comprehensive health insurance, life insurance, housing options, retirement savings, parental leave, and more.

Q: How do NWSL salaries compare to other women’s sports leagues?
A: NWSL salaries are generally lower than WNBA salaries but are comparable to the FA Women’s Super League in England.


The NWSL has taken significant steps to improve the financial well-being of its players with the signing of the Collective Bargaining Agreement. The new CBA guarantees a living wage for all NWSL players and introduces a wide range of benefits. While the league still has room to grow and compete with salaries in other sports, it is making strides in providing a more sustainable and equitable environment for women’s soccer players. As the league continues to evolve, there is optimism for a bright future for women’s soccer in the United States.

For more information on NWSL player salaries and statistics, visit Pesstatsdatabase.