USWNT, US Soccer Agree to End NWSL Allocation System for National Team Players

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured Columnist IVDecember 14, 2021

CHESTER, PA - OCTOBER 6: Carli Lloyd #10 of NJ/NY Gotham FC pose for a photo with Kelley O"u2019Hara #5 and Emily Sonnett #6 of the Washington Spirit after a game at Subaru Park on October 6, 2021 in Chester, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Howard Smith/ISI Photos/Getty Images)
Howard Smith/ISI Photos/Getty Images

U.S. Soccer and the players association for the women's national team announced an agreement to dissolve the allocation system for the NWSL.

Starting in 2022, members of the USWNT will be free to sign directly with NWSL clubs, and their salaries will be paid by the clubs themselves rather than the federation:

USWNT Players @USWNTPlayers

USWNTPA statement regarding MOU with USSF to extend current CBA and dissolve NWSL Allocation System. <a href="https://t.co/31eGIumL6W">pic.twitter.com/31eGIumL6W</a>

The step comes as U.S. Soccer and the USWNTPA continue negotiations over a new collective bargaining agreement.

The federation issued a statement on Monday's development, which also saw the two sides agree to avoid a strike or lockout through at least March 31:

"We now continue negotiations with both of our Women's and Men's National Teams for new CBAs. We're scheduled to meet with the USWNT today to continue economic discussions around the identical offers that we presented to both the USWNT and USMNT on September 14. We continue to wait on the USMNT Players Association to do the same and hope to soon work directly with USMNT players to get a deal done. We have much work ahead of us but are nevertheless hopeful that we'll soon reach agreement."

When the NWSL launched in 2013, 55 national team players were allocated to the various clubs around the league. The structure carried on through 2021, with 32 players falling under the designation.

Beyond restricting player movement, the system came under criticism in 2019 when new rules about allocation money capped the earnings for members of the U.S. and Canadian national teams.

The Equalizer's Jeff Kassouf reported in January that U.S.-based players could begin declining their federation status, which would see them paid by the NWSL club instead.

Kassouf explained how that allowed players to potentially earn more money and also benefited the clubs themselves: "By putting U.S. players on standard NWSL contracts, teams would at least be compensated for transfers or loans and have a say in those matters, should they arise while the player is still under contract."

The NWSL wrapped up its 2021 season in November, with the Washington Spirit defeating the Chicago Red Stars 2-1 to claim their first league title.