The NWSL CBA Explained

On January 31st, the NWSL and the NWSLPA agreed to their first ever Collective Bargaining Agreement. The deal lasts for five years, covering the 2022 season through the 2026 season. The deal is subject to approval by the NWSL Board of Governors, but after months of back and forth both sides are happy with the outcome and players will be reporting to preseason camp on February 1st with a CBA.

The deal will require somewhere in the ballpark of an additional $100 million of investment from NWSL owners collectively and is broken into 5 primary terms:

Player Compensation

The NWSL has two tiers of how it pays its players: salary and total compensation. Salary is determined by how much cash a player is being payed by the NWSL and total compensation is how much a players deal is worth in total, after combining salary, team provided housing, team provided transportation (a car), fully-vested 401(k) contributions, insurance (health, life and disability), and other lesser benefits.

In total, the player compensation structure breaks out in 5 clauses that set parameters for the following:

  • Player Salaries – All players will receive some form of salary increase and the minimum salary will be increased year-to-year to $35,000 in 2026
  • Player Compensation – The average compensation for a player will average 54,000 over the course of the deal
  • Player Bonuses – An increased number and amount of Player bonuses
  • Player Appearances – Guaranteed compensation for players for qualifying promotional and commercial appearances
  • Revenue Sharing – Players will received 10% of net broadcasting revenues if the league is profitable in years 3, 4, and 5 of the CBA.

Free Agency

2023 will be the first free agent class in NWSL history. The league has established two types of free agents: full and restricted. A full free agent will have the ability to pick any team that they want, and a restricted free agent can choose a team but their original team can keep the player by matching the offer. 2023 will be an abridged version of free agency before the full agreement comes into effect in 2024:

  • 2023 – individuals who have six years of service with the NWSL will receive full Free Agency.
  • 2024 –  individuals who have three years of service in the NWSL will receive Restricted Free Agency and individuals who have five years of service in the NWSL will receive full Free Agency.

Season Standards, Vacation Time, and Other Leave

The season has been regulated to include a fixed start and ending window, and a limit on the maximum number of games and the frequency of games per week. Players have been guaranteed 42 days of vacation, and in season break (7 days), parental leave for parents (new birth or adoptive), leave and salary for pregnant players, and mental health leave for players who need it for up to 6 months.

Health and Wellness

It is now mandatory for a team to have the following positions: Team Physician, Massage Therapist, Sports Scientist, Sports Psychologist, and Team Clinician (for mental health services). The league will also have a league wide Medical Director.

Group Licensing

The league will spend between $250,000 – $300,000 per year on group licensing rights throughout the length of the deal, totaling $1.25 – $1.5 million.

More details will be forthcoming throughout the weeks, but these are the fundamental points that will dictate the coming years of relationship between the NWSLPA and the NWSL.