How to Pay the Amateurs


A lot has been written lately about if the amateur NWSL players should be paid, why they aren’t paid, and if the league or their clubs can afford to pay them.

Very little has been written about how these players should be paid and about what might be a reasonable agreement under which these players, who put in as much work as the players under contract, could be paid.

Every unallocated player (someone who is not being paid by the United States or Canadian federations) makes between $7,200 to $39,700 for the duration of the season, going from April to October. And while this is not a livable wage and needs to be raised if the league wants to retain talent, the amateurs aren’t paid at all. They are simply reimbursed for some, but not all, expenses.

Unllocated players, therefore, make between $360 and $1,985 a game, per their 20-game schedule.

Side note: USWNT players make $54,000 for the NWSL season, meaning $2,700 a game. Still too low, but much more reasonable than their solely NWSL counterparts.

If the NWSL keeps needing to use amateur players going forward, and they will always need to with a 20-person roster and a slough of both United States and Canadian national team players, they should be required to pay them. This pay should not count against the team’s NWSL salary cap (currently set at $278,000). 

This is the current NWSL language on amateurs:

An amateur Player is any person other than a professional Player.  An amateur Player may not receive or retain any remuneration for playing except expenses directly related to a game or games which have actually been incurred by the Player.

This is my proposal for paying amateur players:

An amateur Player is any person other than a professional Player.  An amateur Player will receive $200 each time they are listed in their club’s 18-person game-day roster. They may also receive remuneration for expenses directly related to a game or games which have been incurred by the Player.

The shoestring budget that some clubs operate on should be able to accommodate this modest pay for players putting on their uniforms to go out and try to score or defend goals in the club’s name. If they can’t, that has to be a sign that the ownership group might not be the right fit for the NWSL, going forward.

2015 and 2016 have seen teams having to often bring on amateur players because of the World Cup and Olympics. If the pay changes are put into effect in 2017, a non major year for the United States and Canada, fewer players will need to be called up. Too late to help out those who have already gone without pay, but a good time to implement a new policy and have two seasons to try it out on a smaller scale before the next World Cup year.

Pay the amateur players. It’s bad enough we call them amateur and not non-contract players. The least we can do is pay them. Maybe not what they are worth, but at least something. It’s the right thing to do.

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