Stop Using Unpaid Amateur Players in Women’s Soccer League

Target: National Women’s Soccer League Commissioner Jeff Plush

Goal: End use of unpaid, amatuer players in the National Women’s Soccer League.

Women’s sports, specifically soccer, are often underfunded. The National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) has relied on unpaid, “amateur” players to fill roster spots. Players are forced to sign the amateur contracts and willingly waive compensation in the hopes of earning a full-time team contract.

Following the 2011 Women’s World Cup, the NWSL was created with ten franchises across the United States and boasting the world’s top talents. In 2015, the United States Women’s National Team won the World Cup — and fans were outraged to learn the women’s first place bonus ($2 million) was considerably less than what the U.S. men earned after they earned an 11th place finish ($9 million). This pay discrepancy occurred despite the Women’s World Cup final match bringing in 750 million viewers — a record number in men’s or women’s soccer.

The NWSL uses amateur players, but the lack of payment likely isn’t the result of poor ticket sales. NWSL team the Portland Thorns routinely outsells teams in Major League Soccer, the NWSL’s male counterpart. And although NWSL claims that using amateur players is an acceptable practice for a growing organization, even minor league men’s leagues throughout a variety of sports scrounge up salaries and stipends for each player.

By allowing these pay discrepancies and turning to amateur players, the NWSL implicitly shows that women’s sports are not as important as men’s — and that physiological differences make women and their games inferior. Call on NWSL Commissioner Jeff Plush to end the use of unpaid, amateur players, advocate for equal pay at the national level and stand up for female athletes.


Dear Commissioner Plush,

The use of amateur players in the National Women’s Soccer League should not be tolerated.

Women’s soccer has skyrocketed in popularity since the 2011 Women’s World Cup and the inception of the NWSL. Ask the 750 million viewers who tuned in to watch the United States women win the 2015 World Cup. For a league that boasts the top talent in the world, it is unacceptable that players are expected to foot the bill to play, in the hopes of possibly earning a permanent roster spot. Men’s leagues across the country — across a number of sports and levels — manage to pay their players. Development leagues might be a little trickier, but for a league that brings in the best in the world, the fact that our women are not paid does not help the sport, or the growth of the league. Even when NWSL players are paid, it is often not a living wage and players must rely on family members or second jobs to make ends meet after grueling training and match schedules.

By standing by and allowing these pay discrepancies to exist, you are setting the example that women and their sports leagues don’t matter. Step up and find a better solution to pay the women who work hard and have inspired our entire country.


[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Ray Terrill

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