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CBA FAQs

CBA Agreement Reached with NWSL

In January 2022, the NWSLPA made history in ratifying the first Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) for an American women’s professional soccer league. 

COMPENSATION

What is the 2023 Minimum Salary?

The minimum salary for 2023 is $36,400. If you made the minimum salary in 2022 ($35,000), your salary will automatically increase to the new minimum for the 2023 season.

If I signed a contract in 2022, will I receive an automatic increase for the 2023 season?

Any effective SPA that continues into 2023 shall provide for an annual increase of base salary from year to year (YOY) of no less than 2.5% percent per year. If an increase has not been negotiated into your contract YOY, your salary will automatically increase 2.5% from the previous year. Example: A player signs a 2 year deal in 2022 with no negotiated increase for year 2. The player’s base salary in 2022 is $40,000, making their 2023 base salary $40,800.

What is NWSL’s pay frequency? Where can I find payroll dates?

Go To Calendar

NWSL runs a bi-weekly payroll with employees receiving payments every other Friday. Employees will be paid 26 times throughout the calendar. You can find the 2023 specific pay dates on the calendar.

STANDARD PLAYER AGREEMENT (SPA)

What is the Standard Player Agreement? 

A Standard Player Agreement (SPA) is a contract between the NWSL and any player employed by the NWSL. The SPA is commonly referred to as a player’s contract. The document contains standard elements that apply to all players who sign a SPA (pages 1-17 of document). The pages contained thereafter relate the individual player’s terms of employment with the NWSL/their club (compensation, housing, auto, etc).

PLAYER MOVEMENT

FREE AGENCY

How and when will I be eligible for Free Agency?

Free Agency eligibility is determined by a player's NWSL service year count and contract status for a given year. The 2023 NWSL season will be the league’s first with Free Agency. Players with at least six NWSL service years and that had an expiring SPA at the end of the 2022 season were Free Agency eligible for the 2023 season. Beginning with the 2024 season, the full Free Agency program will be available to players that meet the following eligibility criteria:

- Restricted Free Agency (RFA) will be available to players with at-least 3 NWSL service years and an expiring SPA. RFA permits the eligible player to select a team for the purposes of negotiating a new SPA. If the player’s current team matches an offer from the player’s desired new team within seven (7) days of the team receiving written notice of the offer, the current team will have the right to retain the Player. If the player’s current team does not match the qualified offer, the player is free to sign with the new team.

- Unrestricted Free Agency (UFA) will be available for any player with at least 5 NWSL service years and an expiring SPA. UFA permits the player to select a team for the purposes of negotiating a new SPA with no restrictions or obligations.

I entered into my current SPA prior to the ratification of the CBA in 2022, which includes a club option in 2024. Will I be free agency eligible in 2024 if I meet the service year requirement?

Clubs retain the right to exercise unilateral options for players that entered into SPAs prior to CBA ratification, as long as the option is exercised prior to the Roster Freeze date of the concurring year. If the club does not exercise a player’s option by the Roster Freeze date, the player will be Free Agency eligible for the next season. All SPA’s entered into post CBA ratification by players with free agency eligibility (from a service year standpoint ) can no longer include unilateral club options. Only mutually agreed upon options will be accepted.

DISCOVERY PROCESS

What is the Discovery Process?

The Discovery Process is a mechanism in which NWSL teams may acquire a player’s playing rights, with the intention of entering into an SPA with the player.

What does it mean if I am Discovery eligible?

If a player’s rights are acquirable by an NWSL team, then they are Discovery eligible. Domestic and foreign players are eligible for Discovery. To become Discovery Eligible a player must NOT - Currently be under contract in the NWSL - Have their rights controlled by an NWSL team - Be eligible for a current or future NWSL Draft - Be part of the USWNT Player Pool.

What does it mean if I am added to a Team’s Discovery List?

In order for a club to obtain the playing rights of a player not currently under contract in the NWSL, they must first add the player to their Discovery List. Once a team adds a player to its Discovery List, the team will have 30 days to enter into an SPA with the player. If after 30 days the player has not signed an SPA with the discovering team, the player may obtain a competing request from another team. Upon receiving a competing request, the discovering team has 14 days to finalize an SPA with the player. If the discovering team does not enter into an SPA with the player within 14 days, then the competing team has 14 days to negotiate an SPA with the player. If the player does not enter into an SPA with the competing team, the player’s rights shall revert back to the discovering Team. There is no limit on the number of competing discovery requests a player may receive.

Will I be notified if I am added to a Team’s Discovery List?

While a player is not required to be immediately notified about their addition to a Discovery List, the team acquiring the player’s discovery rights will have 30 days to enter into an SPA with the player. If after 30 days the player has not signed an SPA with the discovering team, the player may obtain a competing request from another team. Upon receiving a competing request, the discovering team has 14 days to finalize an SPA with the player. If the discovering team does not enter into an SPA with the player within 14 days, then the competing team has 14 days to negotiate an SPA with the player. If the player does not enter into an SPA with the competing team, the player’s rights shall revert back to the discovering Team. There is no limit on the number of competing discovery requests a player may receive. Additionally, the NWSLPA and League will keep record of these the Discovery List (updated monthly) and can confirm a player’s status with them upon request at any time.

TRADES

What is important to know about the Trade process?

Players may be traded from one Team to another Team during any NWSL offseason trade window or FIFA transfer window for the U.S. However, players now have the ability to negotiate for a no-trade clause in their SPA which prohibits their club from executing a trade of that player. In addition, the CBA provides protections for players who are traded suddenly. Players are now given up to 48 hours to report to their new Team. Once the Player arrives at their new market, the Player is entitled to two consecutive days off to organize their affairs, as coordinated with their new team.

What type of assistance can I expect if I am traded?

- Reimbursement (up to $2500) in reasonable relocation expenses or a stipend of $2,000. - Fees up to a maximum of $5,000 incurred by a player who is required to break a lease as a part of the Player’s relocation, if the Player’s movement is at the direction of NWSL (i.e., involuntary). - Reasonable housing expenses and per diem, at the rates specified in the CBA, for up to 14 days, unless team-provided housing is immediately available - A rental car for up to 10 days unless team-provided transportation is immediately available. - Coach airfare for the Player, or if the Player chooses to travel by automobile, reimbursement at the IRS. mileage rate, between the Player’s home and the metropolitan area in which the player’s team is located.

WAIVERS

What happens if I am waived in the middle of the season?

When a player is waived, they will be placed on the Waiver Wire for 24 hours. During this time, all teams are notified of the player’s waived status. From there, a team can claim the player’s rights from the wire and assume their existing SPA. If no team claims the player from the Waiver Wire, the player will either become immediately Free Agency or Discovery eligible (depending on their service year status).

What happens to my pay, housing and insurance if I am not claimed by a team from the waiver wire?

A Player on a Semi-Guaranteed SPA who is waived and is not claimed off the Waiver Wire and whose contract was not terminated as a result of misconduct, will receive 4 weeks severance pay of their base salary. Depending on which housing option the player was previously utilizing, they will continue to receive either their same team-provided housing arrangement or housing stipend for up to 30 days following termination of their SPA. The Player is also eligible to elect continuation of insurance coverage under COBRA in the event they are waived, with NWSL paying the premium for the first month. NWSL will initiate outreach to the player with information related to continuing coverage post termination.

What happens if I am waived during the End of Season Process?

Players waived during the End of Season Process will be placed on the End of Season Waiver Wire where teams can claim the players current SPA in a 24 hour time period. If a team does not claim the player from the wire, they will become immediately Discovery Eligible. The player will continue to receive their same pay, housing arrangements, and benefits through the end of the calendar year in which they are waived.

Is there a point in the season where my semi-guaranteed SPA will become guaranteed?

Yes, after the Roster Freeze date (TBD for 2023), all players with semi-guaranteed SPAs will see their contracts become guaranteed for the remainder of the year. This means that their pay, housing, and insurance will remain in effect for the remainder of the year regardless if they are waived. This also applies to players that are waived during the end of season process.

ROSTERS

What are the minimum and maximum roster sizes for each NWSL team?

Minimum: 22 Maximum: 26 Players on the Roster must be paid a base salary equal to or greater than the Minimum Salary.

Travel Requirements

For away games, NWSL Teams must travel a minimum of 18 players, except in exceptional circumstances and/or situations where a Player is injured or otherwise becomes unavailable within 48 hours of an NWSL game.

Can teams exceed the roster maximums at any point in the season?

Team’s are required to enter into roster compliance by the Roster Compliance Date (RCD), which is outlined in the League’s Competition Calendar. The 2023 RCD is TBA, but typically falls just before the start of the season's first weekend of games. This means that a team may exceed the maximum number of players assigned to its roster from the day after the 2022 NWSL Championship through the 2023 Roster Compliance Date.

How do Unavailable players affect roster limits?

Players listed as Unavailable on a team’s roster do not count towards roster minimum or maximum numbers at any given time. Examples of Unavailable players include: - A player with a Season Ending Injury (SEI) - A player listed on the 45 day disabled list (D45) - A player away on international duty - A player away on maternity leave - A player away on mental health leave

BENEFITS

The following benefits are available for players through their employment in NWSL

- Health Insurance - Life Insurance - Long-Term Disability - Workers’ Compensation - Housing (team-provided or by a stipend) - Automobiles - 401k planning and matching - Pregnancy protections - Dependent Care Assistance - Nursing Accommodations - Parental Leave - Mental Health Leave - Access to a Flexible Spending Account - Vacation Days - Mandatory Time-off - League-wide Mid-season break - Bereavement

APPEARANCES

What is the difference between a Promotional and Commercial Appearance?

Promotional: A public or community appearance by a Player that promotes NWSL, a Team, or the sport of soccer. Commercial: An appearance in which the primary purpose is to promote a commercial affiliate or commercial enterprise other than NWSL or its Teams.

Are both appearance types paid?

Promotional: The first three Promotional Appearances that a team asks a player to make are unpaid. If a player makes more than 3 team promotional appearances in a league year, then the player will be compensated $200 for up to 2 hours, and $100 for each hour after the first 2. A team may request 1 additional promotional appearance from each player on their team in a league year if each player has fulfilled the 3 unpaid appearances threshold. Additionally, the NWSL may request 2 unpaid promotional appearances from players up to 2 hours in length. If a player makes more than 2 league promotional appearances in a league year, then the player will be compensated $300 for up to 2 hours, and $100 for each hour after the first 2. Commercial: Team requested commercial appearances will always be paid. A player will receive a minimum of $450 dollars for a commercial appearance of up to 3 hours. A player will receive a minimum of $300 for each additional hour after the first 3. Additionally, the NWSL may request commercial appearances by players that will be paid at a minimum rate of $800 for up to 3 hours and $400 for each additional hour after the first 3. There is no limit on the number of commercial appearances a player can make for their club or NWSL in a league year.

If you have any questions about your specific circumstances, or anything not addressed above, please contact Meghann Burke (meghann.burke@nwslplayers.com) or Sydney Miramontez (sydney@nwslplayers.com) for guidance. 

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