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Source: Orlando Pride acquire Barbra Banda for $740,000 fee, second largest in world history

Banda’s four-year contract is worth around $2.1 million all-in including bonuses, a source confirmed, making her one of the highest-paid players in the NWSL

Barbra Banda smiles during a World Cup game in New Zealand.
Daniela Porcelli / SPP

The Pride have acquired Zambian forward Barbra Banda from Chinese Super League team Shanghai Shengli for a $740,000 transfer fee, a source familiar with the deal confirmed to The Equalizer. The fee is the second highest in world history behind Zambian teammate Racheal Kundananji, whose move to NWSL expansion team Bay FC set the global record last month.

Banda’s contract with the Pride is a four-year deal valued at around $2.1 million all-in including bonuses, a source confirmed, which will make her one of the highest-paid players in the NWSL.

CBS Sports was first to report Banda’s move to Orlando.

Orlando will incur an additional salary-cap hit to acquire Banda for spending beyond the NWSL’s new $500,000 net transfer threshold. Some of that cap hit can be bought down with allocation money.

While many global transfer windows are closed until summer, the NWSL’s primary transfer window remains open until April 16. Like with Kundananji, who Madrid CFF transferred to Bay FC for €735,000 (about $788,000 at the time, plus another $75,000 in possible add-ons), Banda’s transfer fee was driven by a lofty buyout clause in her Shanghai contract, a source familiar with the deal confirmed.

Banda’s breakout came at the Tokyo Olympics in 2021. She scored hat tricks in back-to-back group games, becoming the first woman in Olympic history to score successive hat tricks and to score two hat tricks in the same tournament. Zambia struggled at the tournament, losing those games 10-3 to the Netherlands and drawing China 4-4, but Banda’s talent drew global attention.

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A year later, Banda was the subject of controversy after she and three other players were banned from Africa’s championship and World Cup qualifying event for what CAF officials claimed were testosterone levels above the confederation’s permitted limit. Prior to last year’s World Cup, an Associated Press report detailed a “flawed process” that mistreated Banda.

Zambia qualified for the 2023 World Cup without its star, and Banda was cleared by FIFA to compete at the global tournament. There, she scored the 1,000th goal in Women’s World Cup history last year from the penalty spot in Zambia’s 3-1 victory over Costa Rica.

Banda joins a growing wave of African players entering the NWSL, including her Zambian teammate, Kundananji. Nigeria forward Asisat Oshoala also recently transferred to Bay FC from FC Barcelona. Orlando’s fee for Banda adds to the booming women’s soccer transfer market. FIFA said the January 2024 transfer window set a record with $2.1 million in fees paid, a 165% increase from January 2023.

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