The National Women’s Soccer League and the NWSL Players Association have started negotiations on the league’s first collective agreement.

“The sustainability of our league is inextricably linked to the stability of the players ‘careers,” said Meghann Burke, Executive Director of the players’ association, in a prepared statement on Wednesday. “With this CBA we want to ensure stability, fairness and longevity for a career in NWSL for all players.”

The collective bargaining process began at the end of 2020, the league announced. The two teams had already worked together on issues such as player health and safety and paid prior to last summer’s Challenge Cup, which was held in a bubble in Utah. The NWSL was the first U.S. professional team sports league to return amid the coronavirus pandemic. Players who withdrew from the tournament for personal reasons were still guaranteed salaries and insurance.

“The cooperation between the clubs in the league and the players was crucial to our mutual success over the past year,” said NWSL Commissioner Lisa Baird. “If we build on that trust and partnership and are very happy to work with Meghann Burke in her new role as director, we will all strive to better define the relationship between the league and the extraordinary women that are out on the playing field every week. I am grateful to the PA leadership so far for their thoughtful engagement in this process. “

The players’ association announced on Monday that Burke, General Counsel of the union since 2017 and Chief Operating Officer since last year, will take over the position of full-time executive director.

The players’ association was founded in 2017 and serves as the negotiating agent for all NWSL players who are not assigned by the US and Canadian national teams.

“I’m just very proud of the players and the union and the leadership of the players to move this forward because a league that’s better for everyone who plays in it is sure to be better for everyone who comes after us.” Said Meghan Klingenberg, Portland Thorns defender. “We love playing soccer. We love it. We want to be soccer players for as long as possible. But we also know we are leaving a legacy. That way we can make sure that sport remains in a better place for women than when we found it. “

The NWSL has 10 teams and will open its ninth season on May 15th. The league starts its preseason Challenge Cup tournament on Friday.

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