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Archive for January 26, 2022

Jan. 26, 2022 — Not the easiest time to be an NWSL owner

We’re less than a week before the start of training camp for the 10th season of the National Women’s Soccer League, and there is already some saber-rattling on the part of the NWSL Players’ Association, which is asking for a collective bargaining agreement for their labor.

And it doesn’t look good for a CBA to be agreed upon before the players report to training camp.

The players have made it clear that, without an agreement in place, the players are going to withhold their labor with their teams.

It’s the first time that a U.S. professional women’s Division I soccer league has threatened a labor action. But that’s because of the maturation of the market of women’s pro soccer over the last 20 years.

Back in 2001, when the WUSA began, there was a two-tiered system for the players: the 20 League Founding Players from the 1999 Women’s World Cup team, and everybody else. If a player not on that WWC team was unhappy with her contract, that player would find a dozen or more free agents clamoring to take her place on a WUSA roster.

In WPS and the first few years of the NWSL, there were lots of questions about playing conditions, especially when it came to the facilities in Boca Raton, Fla., Piscataway, N.J. and Rochester, N.Y. But there were no player protests or job actions because, frankly, the owners held the leverage when it came to how the leagues were run.

No more. With a number of head coaches having to resign in disgrace because of player abuse, the owners of the current NWSL teams have lost an awful lot of ground when it comes to leverage. The players, thanks to the sizable bank accounts of teams in Europe and Central America, have been given a lot of bargaining power. It was this bargaining power that enabled the likes of Carli Lloyd, Heather O’Reilly, Sam Mewis, Christen Press, and Tobin Heath to play in leagues other than the NWSL.

Now, it gets interesting. Will the two sides be able to hammer out some kind of accord?