Skip to content

Women’s player sells personal possessions to play upcoming season

Nov 4, 2013, 7:45 PM EDT

800px-Melissa_Barbieri

Newsflash: Women’s soccer players make squat. There are a few Alex Morgans and Hope Solos in the world, but most women’s “professionals” are threatening their nations’ poverty lines. A lot of players during the last NWSL campaign made less than five-figures during the 22-game season.

From Australian, where the W-League season is about to start, we get another reminder of those realities. Melissa Barbieri, well-known Australian international goalkeeper, does not have a contract with her national federation right now, having spent more than a year off the field with the birth of her first child. Without the corresponding subsidies, the 80-time international won’t make enough money to support herself during the upcoming season.

Intent on coming back, the 33-year-old is selling personal memorabilia to fund her season. Photos, jerseys, whatever trinkets she has from her soccer career, Barieri’s auctioning off with hopes of covering her expenses.

From the Sydney Morning Herald:

”’I decided that $5000 would cover me after doing a budget and decided that anything over $5000, I’d give it to my teammates,” Barbieri said. ”You’d find that every club has it’s own way of running, there’s a salary cap but there’s no floor. You’ll find that a player earns $10,000 in a team and another earns nothing.”

It’s similar in the U.S.’s National Women’s Soccer League. The league has a salary cap, and a good chunk of each team’s players have their salaries covered by the U.S., Canadian, and Mexico. But while some players could be earning over $25,000 for a season’s work, others will make around $6,000, often prorated.

Where there’s no salary cap, the situation’s the same. Most professional players are essential semi-pros, not making enough money to sustain more than a college student’s lifestyle.

As Barbieri reminds us, the issue goes beyond women’s soccer.

”It’s not just the W-League, it’s women’s sport and we need something to happen in Australia for women’s sport,” Barbieri said. ”We’ve got some great athletes out there but, unfortunately, a lot of them are struggling. It’s been frustrating for the last 12 years, it’s nothing new, I just came up with a new way of helping myself out. I was thinking of things that I could do and I’m like why not fund raise?”

She’s getting some help. Socceroos veteran Archie Thompson is chipping in, as is national team goalkeeper Mitchell Langerak, meaning she’s likely to eclipse her goal. When she does, other Adelaide United players will benefit.

”A lot of girls are washing windows to make ends meet,” Barbieri said. ”I commend them for changing states to find a team because a lot of teams have Matildas and there’s very little room for them if they’re not the top young players. Coming to Adelaide has been a real testament to their courage and basically their guts.”

There’s much more in Dominic Rossi’s piece at the Sydney Morning Herald (I’ve swiped enough of his quotes), but Barbieri’s story is a reminder of what many soccer players go through across the world. If you’re lucky, you have one job that can maintain you for the year, but a lot of women’s players will go from one league to another, spending time on both sides of the globe to sustain their careers. In each place, they’re spending to their limits on a month-by-month basis, where the best case scenario is getting another 10-15 years out of a game most have to give up after high school.

Should these players get paid more? It’s hard to say ‘yes’ when almost every women’s professional team loses money. There’s a conversation to be had about bias and opportunity, but there’s also the present day reality: There’s only so much to go around.

For a player like Barbieri, it’s worth it to sell some of her past to pay for her present. But there are a lot of other players who don’t have the option of doing so. That’s the reality of women’s professional soccer.

Latest Posts
  1. Big Spenders: Which Premier League clubs must go all-in on transfer deadline day?

    Aug 31, 2015, 10:48 PM EDT

    Arsene Wenger, Arsenal FC Arsene Wenger, Arsenal FC

    Three Premier League sides have some serious work to do on transfer deadline day. Who needs what?

  2. Top 5 reasons we’ll all miss Harry Redknapp on transfer deadline day

    Aug 31, 2015, 9:15 PM EDT

    Harry Redknapp, wheeler-dealer Getty Images

    Harry Redknapp was the ultimate star of transfer deadline day. Tuesday will be a sad, empty day without Harry around.

  3. Done Deals: Recapping Man United (and others’) busy day — De Gea drama; Chicharito out; $56 million for Martial

    Aug 31, 2015, 7:39 PM EDT

    Javier "Chicaharito" Hernandez & David de Gea, Manchester United FC Javier "Chicaharito" Hernandez & David de Gea, Manchester United FC

    Manchester United were the world’s busiest football club on Monday. They, along with others, made headlines ahead of the transfer deadline.

  4. NO DEAL: David de Gea’s transfer to Real Madrid falls through as Man United paperwork arrives too late

    Aug 31, 2015, 6:53 PM EDT

    150831_deGea Getty Images

    Manchester United failed to submit the necessary paperwork before Spain’s transfer deadline, and De Gea will not move to Real Madrid.

  5. MLS Player of the Week — Week 26: New York Red Bulls’ Bradley Wright-Phillips

    Aug 31, 2015, 4:05 PM EDT

    Bradley Wright-Phillips, New York Red Bulls Getty Images

    Two goals, one assist in a 3-0 victory over your club’s most hated rivals — more than enough to win POTW honors.

  6. MLS Team of the Week — Stars of Week 26

    Aug 31, 2015, 3:20 PM EDT

    Michael Bradley, Toronto FC Michael Bradley, Toronto FC

    Two Bradleys, two from Crew SC and two from the Dynamo — the latest MLS Team of the Week.

  7. Monday’s Transfer Rumor Roundup: Mahrez to Arsenal, Witsel to Spurs

    Aug 31, 2015, 2:11 PM EDT

    Witsel Getty Images

    Yes, rumors know no season, but the transfer mill will churn out a lot less gossip after Tuesday’s end of the summer transfer season.

  8. Report: De Gea moving to Madrid as Costa Rican hero Navas heads to Old Trafford

    Aug 31, 2015, 1:42 PM EDT

    David de Gea won Manchester United's Player of the Year award in what was likely a landslide. Getty Images

    Manchester United and Real Madrid have swapped goalkeepers, with the Premier League side landing a load of dough, too.

  9. VIDEO: Premier League Team of the Week — Round 4

    Aug 31, 2015, 1:23 PM EDT

    Manchester City v Everton - Premier League Getty Images

    The UEFA Champions League clubs don’t find themselves well-represented in the Premier League Team of the Week after a weekend of shocks around Britain.

  10. Fireworks as transfer deadline passes in Germany: Draxler to Wolfsburg, Januzaj to Dortmund

    Aug 31, 2015, 12:32 PM EDT

    Draxler AP

    We’re still waiting to see whether Javier Hernandez seals his move to Bayer Leverkusen. “Chicharito” has been spotted around Bayer HQ.

  11. VIDEO: Premier League Player of the Week — Round 4

    Aug 31, 2015, 11:23 AM EDT

    Swansea City's Bafetimbi Gomis, left, celebrates scoring his side's second goal beside Manchester United's Luke Shaw during the English Premier League soccer match between Swansea City and Manchester United at the Liberty Stadium in Swansea, Wales, Sunday, Aug. 30, 2015.  (AP Photo/Matt Dunham) AP

    The Black Panther is doing more than simply prowling; He is finishing his chances with style.

  12. Miami FC confirms AC Milan, Lazio legend Alessandro Nesta as first manager

    Aug 31, 2015, 11:09 AM EDT

    Defender Alessandro Nesta slips on his new jersey after signing with the Montreal Impact soccer team, Friday, July 6, 2012, in Montreal. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Paul Chiasson) AP

    The 2006 World Cup champion will organize Miami FC for co-owner Paolo Maldini during the club’s first season in the NASL.

  13. Premier League Playback: It’s time to change the Transfer Window rules

    Aug 31, 2015, 10:51 AM EDT

    LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - AUGUST 23:  John Stones of Everton applauds the fans prior to the Barclays Premier League match between Everton and Manchester City at Goodison Park on August 23, 2015 in Liverpool, England.  (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images) Getty Images

    PST’s Lead Writer and Editor takes an in-depth look back at the PL weekend.

  14. Morning news: Jelavic medical for West Ham, ball in Borini’s court after Liverpool accepts bid

    Aug 31, 2015, 10:35 AM EDT

    Jelavic Getty Images

    It looks like we’re headed for a bonkers Transfer Deadline Day on Tuesday, and a trio of Premier League teams might be doing some under-the-radar business on Monday.

  15. Draxler, Pogba, Januzaj headline 10 deals to monitor as we near Transfer Deadline Day

    Aug 31, 2015, 9:33 AM EDT

    Queens Park Rangers v Burnley - Premier League Getty Images

    With the transfer deadline approaching its Tuesday conclusion, deals and rumored deals are hitting the headlines at a head-spinning rate.

  16. Mexico’s Chicharito departs Manchester United; Will he reclaim his form in the Bundesliga?

    Aug 31, 2015, 9:10 AM EDT

    Manchester United's Javier Hernandez keeps the ball from Newcastle's Cheik Ismael Tiote during their English Premier League soccer match at Old Trafford Stadium, Manchester, England, Saturday Dec. 7, 2013. (AP Photo/Jon Super) AP

    This Little Pea went to market, reportedly finding a new home in the Bundesliga (And did he really ask for $135k per goal from West Ham?).

  17. Manchester United to add new $56 million striker as Monaco’s Martial leaves France duty

    Aug 31, 2015, 8:10 AM EDT

    VALENCIA, SPAIN - AUGUST 19: Anthony Martial of Monaco looks on during the UEFA Champions League Qualifying Round Play Off First Leg match between Valencia CF and AS Monaco at Mestalla Stadium on August 19, 2015 in Valencia, Spain.  (Photo by Manuel Queimadelos Alonso/Getty Images) Getty Images

    The French federation says Martial was given permission to leave camp by Didier Deschamps, and that he’ll sign a contract with United.

  18. MLS Snapshot: New York Red Bulls 3-0 DC United

    Aug 30, 2015, 9:15 PM EDT

    Bradley Wright-Phillips, New York Red Bulls AP

    A complete performance from the Red Bulls, who will finish the season unbeaten against their Atlantic Cup rivals.

  19. Done Deals: De Bruyne joins Manchester City in busy day for Wolfsburg

    Aug 30, 2015, 8:05 PM EDT

    FBL-ENG-GER-ARSENAL-WOLFSBURG-FRIENDLY Getty Images

    Find out what moves have been completed with the transfer deadline approaching, as Wolfsburg made three big deals today.

  20. MLS Snapshot: Seattle Sounders 2-1 Portland Timbers

    Aug 30, 2015, 7:04 PM EDT

    cd0ymzcznguwzdbhnduynddiytjhm2yyzthlmtjjotqwyyznpwiwy2q3odk1zwm3ownizgywzdkyota2nwzhymvkmgrl AP

    More than 64,000 supporters packed CenturyLink Field as the Sounders downed the Timbers in a Cascadia Cup clash.

Featured video

MOTD: United's offensive struggles