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. Foot injury forces DF Hector Moreno to withdraw from Mexico’s 2015 Gold Cup squad

    Jun 29, 2015, 11:25 PM EDT

    Hector Moreno, Mexico — 2014 World Cup Hector Moreno, Mexico — 2014 World Cup

    A huge blow for Mexico as an injury will keep Mexico’s best defender off their Gold Cup squad.

  2. Club president: Ronaldinho has agreed terms with Turkish side Antalyaspor

    Jun 29, 2015, 10:26 PM EDT

    Ronaldinho, Queretaro — Liga MX (Mexico) Ronaldinho, Queretaro — Liga MX (Mexico)

    Ronaldinho is on the move again, and (thankfully) he’s not coming to MLS.

  3. Chile 2-1 Peru: Vargas’ wondergoal puts the hosts through to Copa America final (video)

    Jun 29, 2015, 9:23 PM EDT

    Eduardo Vargas, Chile — 2015 Copa America semifinal Eduardo Vargas, Chile — 2015 Copa America semifinal

    Chile will play for their first Copa America title on Saturday. A chance to make history at home.

  4. Dutch FA terminates Guus Hiddink’s contract amid EURO 2016 qualifying struggles

    Jun 29, 2015, 8:31 PM EDT

    Guus Hiddink, Netherlands Guus Hiddink, Netherlands

    Guus Hiddink is out as Dutch national team manager after less than a year in charge. Who do they turn to now, ahead of EURO 2016?

  5. The final before the final: United States, Germany meet in Women’s World Cup semifinal

    Jun 29, 2015, 7:04 PM EDT

    MONTREAL, QC - JUNE 29:  Alex Morgan of USA talks to the media during a press conference and training session prior to the FIFA Women's World Cup Semi Final match between USA and Germany at Olympic Stadium on June 29, 2015 in Montreal, Canada.  (Photo by Stuart Franklin - FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images) Getty Images

    It’s No. 1 vs. No. 2 in the world, but it’s only a semifinal.

  6. FOLLOW LIVE — 2015 Copa America: Hosts Chile vs. Peru in semifinal no. 1

    Jun 29, 2015, 6:00 PM EDT

    Arturo Vidal, Chile Arturo Vidal, Chile

    By the end of tonight, either Chile or Peru will have booked their place in the final.

  7. MLS Player of the Week — Week 17: Portland Timbers’ Darlington Nagbe

    Jun 29, 2015, 5:10 PM EDT

    Darlington Nagbe, Portland Timbers — Photo credit: Craig Mitchelldyer - Portland Timbers Darlington Nagbe, Portland Timbers — Photo credit: Craig Mitchelldyer - Portland Timbers

    A goal and an assist — finally a dominant performance — in the weekend’s biggest rivalry game earns Darlington Nagbe POTW honors.

  8. MLS Team of the Week — Stars of Week 17

    Jun 29, 2015, 4:27 PM EDT

    Fanendo Adi, Portland Timbers Fanendo Adi, Portland Timbers

    “Rivalry Week” is in the books, and a number of derby day conquerors find themselves on the last MLS Team of the Week.

  9. Men in Blazers podcast special: USWNT’s Klingenberg talks defense, Germany, karate

    Jun 29, 2015, 3:21 PM EDT

    meninblazers

    Rog talks with the USWNT’s Meghan Klingenberg about the team’s lockdown defense, her karate training, and living with Jeff Van Gundy’s family.

  10. Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup fifth round preview: Cosmos look to do MLS’ N.Y. double, Charlotte hits Chicago

    Jun 29, 2015, 3:07 PM EDT

    New York Cosmos player Lucky Mkosana (R) greets teammate Spanish Raul Gonzalez (L) during a Cuba vs New York Cosmos friendly soccer match on June 2, 2015 at Pedro Marrero stadium in Havana. AFP PHOTO/YAMIL  LAGE        (Photo credit should read YAMIL LAGE/AFP/Getty Images) Getty Images

    Here’s what’s on tap for Tuesday and Wednesday as the USSF tournament stays regional.

  11. Report: Chinese side spends close to $15 million on Spurs’ Paulinho

    Jun 29, 2015, 12:52 PM EDT

    Paulinho's 63rd minute red card allowed a bright Liverpool attack even more space to work. Getty Images

    Guangzhou Evergrande have added a big name to their title charge in the Chinese Super League.

  12. Preview: Copa America semifinals — Can Peru, Paraguay stop an Argentina-Chile final?

    Jun 29, 2015, 11:39 AM EDT

    Paraguay's forward Derlis Gonzalez celebrates after scoring against Brazil during their 2015 Copa America football championship quarter-final match, in Concepcion, Chile, on June 27, 2015.  AFP PHOTO / NELSON ALMEIDA        (Photo credit should read NELSON ALMEIDA/AFP/Getty Images) Getty Images

    Many if not all neutral fans expect Argentina and Chile to make it through their Copa America semifinals en route to a border battle final.

  13. It’s official: Petr Cech has swapped London clubs, Chelsea to Arsenal

    Jun 29, 2015, 10:45 AM EDT

    Arsenal.com Arsenal.com

    That picture is weird, but we’ll get used to it once the Premier League season begins in August.

  14. 2015 Major League Soccer power rankings, Volume V: ‘Caps cap, Quakes shake up the Top Five

    Jun 29, 2015, 10:06 AM EDT

    cD05ODdlNmNhY2MwMjRlZWQzNTJhM2ViYTQ1Y2VlY2YzOCZnPWYzZDIwZmI4ODJlMjBlNjI2ZmZmN2JiMjRkOWM3ZjM4 Getty Images

    Less talking, more ranking. Feel free to debate in the comments section.

  15. Spanish football league becomes first to take legal action over Qatar World Cup dates

    Jun 29, 2015, 8:30 AM EDT

    MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 10: Javier Tebas, President of Liga de Futbol Profesional during the Soccerex European Forum Conference Programme on September 10, 2014 in Manchester, England.  (Photo by Dave Thompson/Getty Images) Getty Images

    FIFA’s weather-related move of the 2022 World Cup from to November-December has its first legal challenge.

  16. England’s case of World Cup fever just what the doctor ordered for women’s soccer in Britain

    Jun 29, 2015, 7:57 AM EDT

    during the FIFA Women's World Cup 2015 Round of 16 match between Norway and England at Lansdowne Stadium on June 22, 2015 in Ottawa, Canada. Getty Images

    Could women’s football in England be en route to a Brandi Chastain moment of their own?

Featured video

PST Extra: Sterling & latest transfer gossip