Rotating schedules and salary questions are just some of the reasons players choose Australia over Europe.
Athletes are constantly looking for an edge over their competition and women’s football is no exception. For Americans, one of the biggest decisions they make is choosing which league to play in.
When it comes to Americans playing overseas, the trend has leaned towards Australia as opposed to Europe.
This may come as a surprise to some, but it is the result of a multitude of reasons including skills, schedules and salaries.
One simple skill that is often overlooked is language. In countries such as France or Germany, Americans might have to compete for and against players, coaches and teams that speak different languages.Embed from Getty Images
In Australia, they can use English from day one, making it a more attractive alternative.
Playing year-round also has its benefits, which is where scheduling comes in.
There are two main options. The first means choosing between the NWSL or a European league, which slightly overlap seasons.
The other is to play in both the NWSL and Australian W-League which alternate seasons.
The W-League ends in March, allowing players to report to NWSL training camps come April.
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When you consider the added value of face time for the U.S. National Team, a goal for many American players, the choice becomes clear.
Playing year-round also has the perks of an extra team salary providing supplemental income for the less than desirable NWSL pay.
The topic of salary is where the future of Americans abroad may start to shift.
More European clubs like Manchester City, Chelsea, Arsenal and Manchester United have been creating and expanding their women’s teams.
While a number of players such as Carli Lloyd, Alex Morgan, Tobin Heath and Megan Rapinoe have had stints in Europe, none have spent an extensive period of their career there.
This could change with larger base salaries attracting more big-name American athletes.
The Rise of Women’s Football In Europe
Australia has its perks; it is often named one of the most livable countries in the world, has a similar culture to the United States and allows players to earn a more steady flow of income.
But it cannot compete with the allure of Europe’s historic ties to the sport.
Unlike a lot of other sports, football has been synonymous with European culture for centuries.
Playing professionally in Europe has often been the height of a footballer’s career.
It means playing for iconic teams at iconic stadiums. It means learning from European coaches to round out physical American play with a more technical European style. And it means competing against the best players in the world.Embed from Getty Images
There are still obstacles to playing in Europe. Some European teams like Lyon and PSG have player caps for non-European Union team members.
European teams tend to look for long-term players and not for those who only want to play during the American off-season. Which means Americans might be a better fit for short contracts in the W-League.
When we step back to see the bigger picture of women’s football the signs are increasingly positive.
More women’s teams in Europe are being created and salaries increased. More players can get international experience. And there are more opportunities for women to play full-time.
All of which are paving the way for the next generation.
With women’s football continuing to attract more fans, we could see a shift in Americans opting to play in countries such as England, France and Germany instead of deciding to choose Australia over Europe.