Women’s soccer is a sport on the rise globally, with more and more girls getting into the sport every year. This is the first generation growing up with women’s soccer being at the forefront, giving players a glimpse of what they can accomplish if they stay with the sport and reach the highest level.
With more notoriety comes more pay for the top players in the world. Much has been made about women’s lay in soccer not being as much as men, but how much do women make in soccer?
Women soccer players at the top of the game can earn hundreds of thousands of dollars per year when combining salary from the club team, national team earnings, endorsements, and more. However, the average professional player might only have limited opportunities that allow them to earn $15,000-$25,000 per season.
A Look At The Top Players Earnings
The best soccer players in the world, regardless of gender, are always going to make the top headlines. They are usually very well compensated, and the money comes in from multiple streams.
These three players currently top the pay charts, although several others are not too far behind.
Annual Salary: $500,000
The face of United States women’s soccer is currently Alex Morgan. Even if it can be argued she is no longer the best player on her team (let alone the world), she earns the most money thanks to her outstanding play, as well as her marketability.
At the club level, she is a max contract player for the Orlando Pride. Known as one of the best strikers in the game, the co-captain of the national team has played for a few other teams in the National Women’s Soccer League, as well as some time in the UEFA Women’s Champions League.
At the national level, she earned right around $250,000 in total from her part in the USA’s run to the World Cup in 2019. This includes bonuses for advancing each round, and money for going on the victory tour.
Where Morgan really shines above most other players comes with endorsements. She has quite a few endorsement deals with big companies like Nike, Coca-Cola, Bridgestone, Nationwide, and more. Her clean-cut image has allowed her to be in the discussion as one of the most marketable woman athletes in the world.
Annual Salary: $400,000
The Orlando Pride also has the second richest women’s soccer player in Marta from Brazil. The 34-year-old is still playing at a high-level, and her reputation as one of the most talented players in the history of the sport makes her a lot of money annually.
After playing a lot of her early career outside of the United States, she first showed up in 2009 to play for the Los Angeles Sol. She has bounced around with different clubs for quite a while, but has been with the Pride since 2017.
Her stardom began as a stand out player for the Brazilian national team, as she has been a member since 2002. She holds the record for most career goals in FIFA World Cup history with 17. Her biggest run came from 2006 to 2010, when she won five consecutive FIFA World Player of the Year trophies.
Some might say she is past her prime, but she still earns money with her Pride contract, representing Brazil in national tournaments, and endorsement deals. Right now, she has deals with the likes of Puma and Coca-Cola. It has helped her grow her brand late in her career by coming back over to the United States, and she will remain a very popular figure everywhere for the way she played at the game.
Annual Salary: $400,000
Just a few years ago, Megan Rapinoe was not really thought of as a superstar in soccer. While she had plenty of success, it was not until she became the unofficial spokeswoman for the United States national team that her brand shot up. Of course, it also helps that her performance has not dropped off in the slightest, turning into one of the most consistent players the USA team has ever seen.
Rapinoe has been with the OL Reign since 2013, and she is paid the max for a NSWL player. Where her money really shoots up is when looking at not only her pay from the last World Cup, but endorsement deals.
She earned the same amount of money for the championship run as Alex Morgan, which added $250,000 to her earnings for the summer. Her endorsement deals have also made her some great money, working with companies like Nike and Samsung for a long time. Since 2019, she has also joined forces with Procter & Gamble, Hulu, Visa, Body Armor, and others.
Many speculated that 2019 was her last run for the national team, but it is too early to tell just how much soccer she has left. She will still continue to be a face for the sport, and she has no problem being an activist for many issues bigger than soccer as well. One way or another, Rapinoe will likely stay in the limelight well past her playing days.
Other High Earners
Women’s soccer continues to grow, and it is becoming more international as well. Even though a lot of the top players do seem to have some connection to the United States, that does not mean it is the only way to earn money.
Sam Kerr is considered by many to be the best player in the game, and at 26 years old, she is in the prime of her career. The Australian did not have the success she was hoping for at the World Cup, but she continues to be a star for the Chicago Red Stars. Her brand continues to grow, and she is near the top of the earnings list.
The club team Lyon has two very talented players and Lucy Bronze and Ada Hegerberg. The later is thought of by many as the best younger player in the world, although she does have some competition from the likes of Rose Lavelle and Vivian Miedema.
What The Average Female Soccer Players Earns
Stars in women’s soccer do pretty well for themselves, but it becomes a bit more of a struggle for average and even below average professionals. Without national team money and the same level of endorsement deals, players become a lot more reliant on earnings from the club.
In a national women’s soccer league, which many consider the top club league competitively in the world, the maximum salary is right around $50,000 per year. The minimum salary is only $20,000 per year, meaning that some players will have to figure out ways to make money in other ways to keep things going.
One way that some players supplement their income is the play for two different club teams depending on the time of year. They will spend half the year in the United States, and then find another place to play for the rest of the year.
The hope is that salaries can continue to go up in this still relatively new league. Getting more interest, signing better TV deals, and more can all contribute to the growth and success.
Why Female Soccer Players Are Paid Less
The fight for equal pay is something that women have been fighting for over the last few years pretty heavily. While there has been some improvements in closing that gap, women’s soccer players do not make nearly as much as men of the same caliber.
Why is that the case? To start, women’s soccer might be growing, but it is still not even close at generating revenue compared to the men. The women’s World Cup generated roughly $150 million in revenue in 2019, which was virtually nothing compared to the over $6 billion generated by the man in the 2018 World Cup. In a sport based on paying talent by performance, the revenue was just not there for the women at this time.
A similar picture can be painted at the club level. There are a few star players who are getting a decent amount of money, but there is only so much to go around without the type of TV deals, sold-out crowds, merchandise sales, and more.
The wording in contracts is also a factor when playing internationally, as the collective bargain and agreements with US women’s soccer players is perhaps the best example. Their deal with the national team is for players to receive a bigger percentage of base pay, plus benefits during maternity leave. For the men, their agreement looks vastly different, opting for pay only if they are called up to play.
A lot has been made about the women fighting for equal pay in the future, but there will no doubt be some tough negotiations at any level. Until the sport generates more money, there simply will not be money available to give to the women.
Why Is The Equal Pay Argument So Big In The United States?
The United States women’s national team is the number one country in the world right now. They are the most recent World Cup champions, and they have looked unbeatable at times. Compared to the results for the men’s team, it would seem like they would deserve to be on the same level as far as compensation is concerned.
A lot of deals are done for USA soccer by combining the two teams and selling those rights. That makes calculating some things a bit murky, but the biggest factor seems to be going back to how much money is generated at major tournaments.
Future Pay Outlook For Women’s Soccer
Women’s soccer is definitely on the rise, and with plenty of talent ready to make their mark, it should only continue to make more money. There are a lot of people fighting for higher wages so that the sport can grow even more, giving aspiring athletes a realistic goal to reach.
Endorsement deals will continue to go up as well for top players, as they become more visible. It might never reach the level of men soccer, but it is certainly catching the attention.