There is so much to be grateful for in 2017, especially when it comes to women's soccer. Here are a few of the most significant milestones of 2017 to be thankful for:
Agreement reached between USWNT and U.S. Soccer
After five U.S. women’s national team players filed a wage discrimination complaint in March of last year, an agreement with U.S, Soccer was reached in April. The new collective bargaining agreement, which will run through 2021, will ensure stability and aid the growth of women’s soccer in the U.S.
Megan Rapinoe, one of the five initial players that filed the complaint, emphasized her continued commitment to the issue in a statement released earlier this year.
In an interview with Sports Illustrated, she said, “While I think there is still much progress to be made for us and for women more broadly, I think the WNTPA should be very proud of this deal and feel empowered moving forward.”
The new agreement includes a commitment from U.S. Soccer to pay the NWSL salaries for allocated players; a return commitment by the players to compete in the NWSL; and a requirement for the improvement of NWSL standards.
The deal also includes improved travel conditions and financial support for players who are pregnant or adopting a child. The women will continue the battle for equitable pay to that of the U.S men’s team. For now, the agreement with U.S. is a major advancement and achievement for women’s soccer in the U.S.
Australian women's soccer team fights for fair wages and better contract
Women’s soccer players in Australia have made huge strides in the same department. This past year, Australian players reached an agreement with Football Federation Australia (the governing body for soccer in Australia) and Professional Footballers Australia (an organization that represents the players).
The terms of the agreement are similar to those of the U.S. Soccer deal. It includes a minimum player salary, income protection for injured players and a new maternity policy. The arrangement is a huge milestone for female players in Australia, especially those who play for the national team.
The squad has proven its ability and capacity to compete with some of the best teams in the world. (The Australian women’s national team beat the USWNT for the first time in 27 games at the Tournament of Nations this past July.) The agreements with U.S. Soccer and Professional Footballers Australia huge breakthroughs in women’s soccer and big steps toward ensuring pathways to success for women’s soccer players around the world.
NWSL breaks record and becomes longest standing women's soccer league
In 2016, The National Women’s Soccer league made history when it became the first women’s professional soccer league in the U.S. to make it to a fourth season. This year, the league continued to make strides forward when it partnered with A&E Networks and Lifetime. A&E Networks proved its faith in the NWSL when it became an equity holder with a multi-million dollar investment.
The deal to air 25 NWSL games went into play this past season, and the broadcasts became available to more than 100 million households across the country.
Dan Surrat, the president of Corporate Development, Strategy and Investments at A&E Networks spoke of potential for growth of the NWSL.
“Sponsors are much more excited to talk once there’s guaranteed national air time.”
With the deal, A&E Networks and Lifetime exhibited confidence in the league and the players, and a belief that the NWSL will continue to make history in the U.S.
“If we were just to put in cash, that’s charity. We invest in things we think will succeed," Surrat added.
Feature photo via Instagram @ussoccer_wnt