“Per league and club policy, terms of the deal were not disclosed.”
That sentence shows up in every story on NWSLSoccer.com about a player signing. Officially, no club can create a page on their website that lists what each of their players make. The only things we do know are that non-allocated players (players from the United States and Canada on their women’s national teams) are paid between $6,800 and $37,800 and that each team has a salary cap of $265,000.
The National Women’s Hockey League (NWHL), which just finished its first season, took a different route. You can go to their website and find a page that lists the salary for each player. The 72 players on the 4 NWHL teams have what they make listed. From the 16 players making just $10,000 to Kelli Stack who makes a league-high $25,000. This isn’t to say the NWHL is perfect, but in this one area it’s already ahead of the NWSL.
Yet, in the NWSL, it’s league and club policy not to give out any information of the terms of the player deals or how much they make off of those deals.
And that’s not even getting at the impact that having such low salaries has on teams and players in the first place.
To look at the impact that the $265,000 cap has on a team, we need to have some fun with math. Let’s look at the 18 player roster for Seattle from the 2015 Championship game and see what Laura Harvey, head coach and GM, might be paying her players.
The roster: Hope Solo, Megan Rapinoe, Kendall Fletcher, Rachel Corsie, Lauren Barnes, Stephanie Cox, Elli Reed, Keelin Winters, Kim Little, Jessica Fishlock, Merritt Mathias, Katrine Veje, Beverly Yanez, Haley Kopmeyer ,Amber Brooks, Mariah Bullock, Danielle Foxhoven, and Kiersten Dallstream.
First off, Solo and Rapinoe can be taken out of consideration, because they are United States allocated players. US Soccer plays them to play in the league. (About $55,000 according to the court documents in the law suit between US Soccer and the United States Women’s National Team.)
For the moment, let’s assume that no other players outside of the 18 that dress for game day are getting paid, just to keep the math simple. Teams are allowed to carry up to 20 players even if not all teams do.
So, 16 players have to fit under a salary cap of $265,000. That would be $16,562.50 per player, if everyone on the roster was being paid evenly. But as we know, in the world of sports, things are rarely fair.
Out of the 16 non-allocated players, Seattle has two from the Scottish Women’s National Team, (Kim Little and Rachel Corsie), one from the Welsh Women’s National Team, (Jess Fishlock), and one from the Danish Women’s National Team, (Katrine Veje). Let’s say each of them made $30,000 each. They are good enough to be called on for international duty after all.
What does that give us? Two allocated players (Solo and Rapinoe), four international players making $30,000 (Little, Corsie, Fishlock, and Veje) and the 12 remaining players making roughly $12,083.33 each, if we’re keeping the rest equal.
But the 12 left wouldn’t be all paid equally. The starting XI would likely be getting more than a bench player, right?
The starting XI: Solo, Fletcher, Corsie, Barnes, Cox, Winters, Little, Fishlock, Mathias, Rapinoe and Yanez.
So let’s increase the rest of the starting XI (Fletcher, Barnes, Cox, Winters, Mathaias, and Yanez) to $20,000 each.
So now you have two allocated players (Solo and Rapinoe), four international players making $30,000 (Little, Corsie, Fishlock, and Veje), six starters making $20,000 (Fletcher, Barnes, Cox, Winters, Mathias and Yanez), and the six bench players making $4,166,66 each.
That puts the bench players’ salaries under the league minimum.
See how quickly that $265,000 goes?
I can’t tell you, with 100% certainty, what the players on Seattle make (outside of Solo and Rapinoe), but I can tell you that some of the players make close to the league minimum. Not making that information known only serves to keep the public from seeing just how many of those players are closer to the $6,800 end of the spectrum than the $37,800 end.
Releasing the players’ salaries would give the public a chance to see just what each team is doing with their $265,000. It will give fans a chance to call GMs out if they aren’t using the money wisely, just like every other sports league has their fans do.
The NWSL making it to its fourth season is huge. But that doesn’t mean that fans and members of the media should give them a free pass. The only way the league will change for the better is by fans and the media pushing them in that direction.
And push we shall.