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. New York City FC sign Jacobson from Dallas, linked with Alberto Aquilani

    Jul 29, 2014, 2:57 PM EDT

    Montreal Impact v FC Dallas AP

    Jacobson arrives in the Big Apple from Dallas. Will Aquilani join him?

  2. Morgan Schneiderlin slams Southampton after Spurs move is blocked

    Jul 29, 2014, 2:20 PM EDT

    Southampton v Fulham - Premier League Getty Images

    Now Schneiderlin wants out as Saints’ incredible exodus continues to take a turn for the worst.

  3. Barcelona reveal record income levels of $711 million

    Jul 29, 2014, 1:58 PM EDT

    Manchester City v Barcelona - UEFA Champions League Round of 16 Getty Images

    Despite not winning any silverware last season, Barcelona were big winners off the pitch.

  4. Report: Carlos Tevez’s father kidnapped, held for ransom

    Jul 29, 2014, 1:21 PM EDT

    Aston Villa v Manchester City - Premier League Getty Images

    Tevez’s father, Juan Carlos Cabral, is said to have been kidnapped in Buenos Aires and held for ransom.

  5. Southampton insist Rodriguez, Schneiderlin are not for sale

    Jul 29, 2014, 1:15 PM EDT

    350x AP

    Southampton duo are going nowhere, despite being linked with Tottenham switch.

  6. Liverpool complete $17 million signing of Belgian striker Divock Origi

    Jul 29, 2014, 12:37 PM EDT

    Source: Liverpool FC Source: Liverpool FC

    Liverpool sign talented Belgian teenager, will loan him back to Lille this season.

  7. Despite calling African players “banana eaters”, Tavecchio still set to lead Italian FA

    Jul 29, 2014, 12:11 PM EDT

    Italy Federation Racism AP

    Even after calling African players “banana eaters” this man is set lead the Italian FA.

  8. Enner Valencia granted work permit, completes $20 million West Ham move

    Jul 29, 2014, 11:10 AM EDT

    Source: West Ham United Source: West Ham United

    Valencia finally signs on, as Hammers splash the cash in search of goals.

  9. Miami’s MLS future continues to hinge on downtown stadium deal

    Jul 29, 2014, 10:35 AM EDT

    Miami's Arquietectonica and 360 Architecture Miami's Arquietectonica and 360 Architecture

    Garber: “MLS will not expand to Miami unless we have a downtown site for the stadium.”

  10. Tim Howard joins NBC Sports’ Premier League broadcast team on multi-year deal

    Jul 29, 2014, 9:42 AM EDT

    FBL-ENG-PR-EVERTON-NEWCASTLE Getty Images

    Howard to call games, be studio analyst, for up to 10 PL games on NBC Sports this season.

  11. VIDEO: US stars fight – Omar Gonzalez vs. Clint Dempsey, DeAndre Yedlin

    Jul 29, 2014, 9:19 AM EDT

    BtrlWjcCcAAahX9

    A shoving match or something more sinister in Seattle?

  12. Report: Marco Reus chased by Manchester United, Barcelona, Bayern Munich

    Jul 29, 2014, 8:35 AM EDT

    FBL-GER-SUPERCUP-DORTMUND-BAYERN Getty Images

    Borussia Dortmund star turns down new deal, alerts European giants.

  13. Manchester United’s Luke Shaw trains on his own, told he’s “not fit enough”

    Jul 29, 2014, 7:51 AM EDT

    Shaw Getty Images

    England youngster told he’s “not fit enough” and ordered to train on his own by van Gaal. Ouch.

  14. MLS Snapshot: Seattle Sounders 0-3 LA Galaxy

    Jul 29, 2014, 12:37 AM EDT

    Philadelphia Union v Los Angeles Galaxy Getty Images

    Sounders’ tendency to collapse resurfaces during the Galaxy’s biggest win of the season.

  15. Premier, Champions League quotas leave Mourinho desperate to sell Torres

    Jul 28, 2014, 11:07 PM EDT

    Torres Getty Images

    A terrible move could get worse if Chelsea can’t move the Spanish striker.

  16. Vertonghen confirms interest from Barcelona, intends to stay at Tottenham

    Jul 28, 2014, 10:13 PM EDT

    Swindon Town v Tottenham Hotspur - Pre Season Friendly Getty Images

    Belgian international intends to stay at White Hart Lane, with a new, five-year deal on the table.

  17. Van Gaal, Manchester United ready to move on from Fellaini, Kagawa

    Jul 28, 2014, 9:17 PM EDT

    Marouane Fellaini AP

    Napoli, Borussia Dortmund linked to the potential United castoffs.

  18. Radamel Falcao on track to return at weekend’s Emirates Cup

    Jul 28, 2014, 8:22 PM EDT

    FBL-FRA-LIGUE1-PSG-MONACO Getty Images

    Colombian international expected to play Saturday against Valencia.

  19. New York connection: Red Bulls, Cosmos come together on Lade loan

    Jul 28, 2014, 7:37 PM EDT

    New York Red Bulls v DC United - Eastern Conference Semifinals Getty Images

    Time in the NASL will give the 24-year-old needed minutes.