USWNT and OL Reign star Megan Rapinoe insists increasing player salaries can revolutionize the NWSL to become one of the most successful leagues, stating: “We have to start allowing players to have financial freedom and power over their own lives.”
Rapinoe spoke with Yael Averbuch West on 90min’s Football Americana to express her concern over the National Women’s Soccer League and suggested ways it can improve to reach its full potential.
The league underwent several changes during the 2021 season after several current and former players spoke up to expose the harassment and abuse going on within the teams.
The allegations forced the NWSL to launch independent investigations that led to the departures of North Carolina Courage head coach Paul Riley, Washington Spirit manager Richie Burke, OL Reign’s Farid Benstiti and Chicago Red Stars leader Rory Dames. NWSL commissioner Lisa Baird also stepped down from her position.
Though a lot of positive changes occurred, Rapinoe maintains that more must be done for the players to feel comfortable and in control.
“Again, I think it has to start with the salaries of the players. If the players don't have financial freedom and they don't have financial power over their own lives, then they'll just always be, in some way, out of balance of power with the ownership or with the team. They'll always be under threat of being manipulated. They'll always be under threat of being abused in a myriad of different ways.
"So for me, it's the ability to say, "I don't need this shit. I'm going to another team." And actually having the power to do that will require teams to be better and require coaches to have better behavior and require teams to, just in general, treat that player better and treat them in a more professional manner. So I think it has to start there. We have to start allowing players to have financial freedom and power over their own lives.”
The USWNT player added that the professionalism of each club must improve to attract international talent.
“The training facilities have to get better. I think for the most part now, I say this as my team who was playing on a baseball field last year, which I don't think anyone would be surprised is totally unacceptable to everyone, everyone knows that, totally unacceptable.So I think the overall standards of the league and of the environments and training environments and the day to day has to get better.”