The National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) has formed a multi-year partnership which makes HR, payroll, and workforce management company, UKG, the first-ever title sponsor of the NWSL Challenge Cup.

The collaboration increases the Cup bonus pool tenfold in 2022, and the total pool will more than double again next year. The 2023 UKG NWSL Challenge Cup will be the first-ever women’s professional soccer tournament to achieve pay equity with its US peers in the men’s game.

“We couldn’t be more thrilled to have a partner like UKG, a brand with whom we have shared values,” commented Jessica Berman, NWSL commissioner. 

“Our partnership is purpose-driven, and we believe that will eventually lead to broader impactful change, not only for women in professional sports but for women and underrepresented groups worldwide who have advocated tirelessly for the equity they deserve.”

Furthermore, the sponsorship closes the wage gap for the UKG NWSL Challenge Cup, with the prize money directly benefiting the women on the winning team, runner-up team, and semifinalist teams. 

This is in addition to the recent substantial investment that the NWSL has received from ownership that increases compensation packages and benefits, enhances training and playing environments.

Brian K. Reaves, Chief Belonging, Diversity, and Equity Officer at UKG, commented: “We refuse to accept that one organisation cannot make a difference in the fight for pay equity – just look at what these remarkable women have done with their collective voice to raise awareness on a national stage about a problem that has plagued our workforce for decades. 

“These worthy athletes are also champions in the field of equality. We are so proud to stand beside the NWSL and work toward bringing pay equity to a sport that, for too long unfortunately, reflected the working reality of many women. This partnership is just one of the many actions UKG is taking to raise awareness and encourage action on pay equity across all workplaces and industries.”

Moreover, Florida-based UKG has also announced that it will partner with NWSL athletes Christen Press and Sydney Leroux in a bid to ‘further advocate for closing the pay gap in every field’.

“I can’t say how much it means to us that UKG is taking a stand on behalf of pay equity for our players,” stated Press. “We have fought long and hard for pay equal to that of our male counterparts, and we need more people to take a stand on closing the pay gap and fighting for fair and consistent pay for everyone, regardless of gender, race, background, or profession.”

Leroux added: “Every player in this league has worked their whole life to play professional soccer and have the means to support themselves and their families. 

“Pay equity goes beyond the average ¢18 less that women are paid for every dollar that a man is paid – it is about people wanting to live the same quality of life, have the same opportunities, and live the same dreams as others doing the same work.”

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