Farrer & Co Women in Sport - Report - Page 28
You say soccer:
a look at the US
US women’s soccer shone at the
2019 World Cup, taking home the
trophy for the fourth time by defeating
the Netherlands 2-0 in the final.
Words by Sally Mantell
The final was watched by 16 million
viewers in the US, and over five million
in the Netherlands.
The team’s Megan Rapinoe was
named the World Cup’s best player,
and has secured a high media profile.
Something is going well for women’s
soccer in the US, but while it is a
positive case study for women’s sport,
there is still much progress to be made
until parity with men’s sport is achieved.
The National Women’s Soccer
League (NWSL) is the top league in US
women’s soccer, comprising nine teams
spread across the country. It is owned
by the teams, and receives financial
backing from both the United States
Soccer Federation (USSF) and the
Canadian Soccer Association, which
pay the salaries of many of the members
of their respective national teams.
Controversially, those salaries are
subject to a cap of $46,200 for the
players – which contrasts with a
$70,250 minimum for the top 24
players in each men’s team in the
top US soccer league.
The National Women’s
Soccer League (NWSL)
is the top league in
US women’s soccer,
teams spread across
On the commercial side, sponsors
are generally seeing the NWSL as
a good investment. The league has
a sponsorship deal with Budweiser,
and completed a deal with ESPN over
the summer for the network to show
its play-off matches in October. It was
recently announced that Nike would
also continue to sponsor the NWSL
for a further three years until 2022,
having been partnered with the
NWSL since 2013.
But the NWSL has had its
challenges. A previous television
partnership between the NWSL and
A+E Networks, which owned a 25%
stake in the league, terminated
prematurely towards the beginning
of 2019. While the reasons for the
termination were not straightforward,
some commentators may draw
adverse inferences when women’s
soccer is at a formative stage.
Attendance at NWSL matches is
significant, with average crowds at
League matches reaching 7,000. The
Portland Thorns is the club that draws
the largest crowds in the League,
regularly attracting 19,000 supporters.
Women in Sport – Levelling the playing field