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Explained: USWNT contracts, the NWSL, and the looming threat of Europe

Photo Copyright Lewis Gettier for The Equalizer

Moves to Manchester City by Sam Mewis and Rose Lavelle might or might not be the start of a series of United States women’s national team players heading to Europe. Like everything in 2020, it’s complicated. Potential movement abroad for top U.S. players long loomed on the horizon, but current circumstances might have accelerated a shift.

In simple terms, any U.S. player could go abroad to play at any point in time, at the sacrifice of a guaranteed U.S. Soccer contract. For most, that wouldn’t be fiscally responsible; $100,000 annual salaries still are not the norm in women’s soccer, and there are only so many elite clubs in the world which will pay that. Allocated players can play abroad regardless of their National Women’s Soccer League clubs’ wishes because their NWSL contracts are with U.S. Soccer. Clubs receive no compensation because technically, these are not transfers.

There is, however, some nuance to everything.

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