The NWSL Players Association Wednesday launched www.SupportThePlayers.NET, an emergency fund to meet the needs of women’s professional soccer players in crisis.
The Support the Players National Emergency Trust (“NET”) is an independent emergency and charitable fund (501(c)(3) status pending) designed to assist current and former professional soccer players with financial hardships, according to a press release. #SupportThePlayersNET will provide emergency financial assistance to NWSL players who cannot afford basic living expenses or the additional costs that become barriers to accessing critical mental health services.
The NWSLPA said that despite being among the top professional soccer players in the world, the vast majority of NWSL players do not earn a living wage. Systemic abuse in women’s soccer that has been exposed by current and former players also will have a lasting impact on players’ mental health, the release stated.
This fund seeks to assist any player who is in crisis and in financial need of additional support.
“SupportThePlayers.NET is one more resource that we can provide our players as we continue to fight to end systemic inequities in our league and around the world,” NWSLPA president Tori Huster said in a statement. This resource is added to the anonymous hotline established by the PA to report any form of harassment, the investigation that will identify systemic failures in protecting players from abuse, and players interviewing potential Commissioner candidates who will be charged with leading a transformation of our sport and an end to the culture of silence that has enveloped it.
“The abusive behavior players have experienced as a collective is pervasive. All players need unhindered access to a mental health provider of their choosing,” said Mana Shim, who is among the players whose courage in speaking out inspired the first work stoppage in NWSL history, sparking a worldwide movement. “It is not a sign of individual weakness to need support. It’s a sign of our collective strength that we, as players, will be there for each other when we need it.”
The fund is independently administered by four trustees: Tracy Deforge, founder of The Players Impact; Donna Cohen, a leading lawyer and advocate for women; Stacey Enos, a pioneer player who earned her first cap with the U.S. women’s national team in its first game in 1985 and who helped the University of North Carolina win its first three NCAA championships, and Kelsey Davis, a former Women’s Professional Soccer player and trained chaplain.
“These professional athletes cannot afford to fly home when they lose a loved one, pay for a car repair, meet a deductible for a medical expense, or pay out-of-pocket costs associated with therapy to deal with the demands of the 2021 NWSL season,” Deforge said in a statement. “This fund will provide much-needed emergency financial assistance to players in need.”
Current and former women’s professional soccer players are eligible to apply for funds beginning Jan. 15. This includes all NWSL players who are members of the NWSLPA and former professional players in the Women’s United Soccer Association, WPS or NWSL who join the NWSLPA. Additional information on how to apply for funds or join the Players Association is available at www.SupportThePlayers.NET.
Donations (501(c)(3) status pending) can be made at www.SupportThePlayers.NET.