NoMoreSideHustles calls on NSWL for professional women’s football salaries
Wake up at 3 a.m. to manage a morning shift at Orange Theory.
Working a 10 hour shift standing, packing Amazon boxes before heading to a group of young girls.
Cleaning houses for extra money. Clean the floors. Teach a high intensity interval training class at 6 a.m.
These are just a few of the side activities that professional footballers in the National Women’s Football League have taken to making ends meet – and it’s a reality they hope to change.
The NWSL Players Association, the union that represents the best professional female soccer players in the United States, has flooded social mediamedia since the end of July with testimonies like these to highlight the low wages in the league.
Nicknamed the #NoMoreSideHustles campaign, the initiative highlights a grim reality. In order to afford to play football professionally, many NWSL players take on two, three or even four jobs at a time, while juggling the physical and mental demands of being a professional athlete.
“I have to constantly make sure that I load my weekly schedule with enough [coaching] sessions to earn enough money, ”said Sabrina Flores, a native of Livingston and Gotham FC defender, in her testimony. “However, I also have to think about balancing my ‘physical load’ so as not to put myself in danger. [or] a drawback for my own physical performance in the field.
The campaign comes at a time when the players’ association is negotiating its first collective agreement with the league since its founding in 2012. And the association underlined in its message that a fair and decent salary will be a priority in these negotiations.
“The NWSLPA will not wait another decade for fair contracts, equal pay and professional playing conditions,” the association said on its campaign website. “Our goal is to set the global standard and ensure that a career in the NWSL becomes a viable professional career choice in the years to come. “
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Despite the league’s growing popularity – in 2020 there was a 493% year-over-year increase in the league’s television viewing audience – wages in the NWSL remain considerably low. According to the players’ association, about a third of its members earn the league’s minimum annual salary of $ 22,000. About 75% of its members earn $ 31,000 or less. The maximum salary for an NWSL player is $ 52,500.
Salaries have increased dramatically since the league’s inception. Compared to last season, the minimum wage has jumped 10% and the maximum wage has increased by 5%. In 2012, the minimum wage for a player was $ 6,000 and the maximum was $ 30,000, according to football publication The Equalizer.
For comparison, the average male Major League Soccer player earned $ 398,725 in the 2021 season, according to figures released by their player association.
The #NoMoreSideHustles campaign, parallel to the national conversation around the fight for equal pay between the United States Women’s National Team and US Soccer, has gained momentum in recent weeks.
Former players, such as new Gotham FC general manager Yael Averbuch West, have expressed their support. “So many of my friends and teammates and I have done all kinds of crazy things to make ends meet. Many players still do. The old ‘reality’ of professional women’s football must change, ”Averbuch West wrote on Twitter.
Organizations such as Cloud 9, the Gotham FC Fan Group and Kansas City Blue Crew, the Kansas City Fan Group, have unveiled large banners on the sidelines of matches with the trending hashtag in bold type.
The MLSPA has also expressed support. The association wrote on Twitter: “All professional athletes should be able to fully concentrate on the game without having to worry about making ends meet.”
And while this fight is about decent wages for NWSL players, its players have also said that it is a much bigger picture.
“Training the next generation of future NWSL players to earn a living not only helps supplement our low incomes, but it gives us hope,” Washington Spirit forward Ashley Hatch said in her testimony. “I hope that if we continue to fight on and off the field, these children we are supporting will enter a world where NWSL players are well paid.”
Melanie Anzidei is a reporter for NorthJersey.com. To get unlimited access to the latest news, please subscribe or activate your digital account today.
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