A few years ago, when women's soccer was totally amateur, no soccer player had a representative and their precarious contracts were negotiated by an acquaintance or family member. With the professionalization of the sector and the growth of salaries, the soccer players began to see the need to have a representation agency that would help them not only to negotiate their sports contracts, but also to find sponsorship opportunities with which to reinforce their brand and increase your profits.
1. When do the representatives enter the feminine?
It is a very recent figure that was introduced into women's football less than a decade ago, when the clubs began to professionalize their sections. FC Barcelona was the first to do so, back in 2015 and others such as Atlético de Madrid followed later. "Before, there was nothing to negotiate either," explains Carlota Planas, co-founder of the soccer player representation agency Unik Sports, dedicated entirely to women's soccer. “The club could love the player, but if she didn't have more budget, there was little to do. As salaries began to grow, investment increased and they began to have more visibility, the players realized that having an agent could be differential, just as it happens in the male one, ”she relates.
And little by little, the parents who acted as intermediaries with the clubs gave way to representation agencies. "I think the clubs have preferred it," Planas is sincere, who maintains that "a much more professional, less emotional and more objective conversation" is now achieved.
2. What is a soccer player's contract like?
The first documents only included the salary of the soccer players, nowadays “they are more and more similar to that of a male soccer player. Some I would say are traced”, says Planas. Establishing what salary to ask for each footballer was somewhat complicated at the beginning, due to the lack of references that existed. Today, due to the dizzying speed at which the market is growing, "the difficulty we find is, in contracts of more than two years, getting the figure right so that the third or fourth year your salary is not too outdated."
As the contracts became more professional, specific aspects such as maternity have also been included. “They were very unprotected, if a player got pregnant, the club could fire her. Now this is unthinkable, the contracts protect them. And not only in sports, but also at the image level before its sponsors”. Planas confesses that at first it was difficult for some clubs, but to this day they have understood the need for this protection: "I can understand the clubs, if I invest around 30 percent of my budget in a soccer player and she gets pregnant I have to keep paying him, but I'm left without a player who was key in my project. We have asked the clubs for many things at the beginning without giving them many tools either ”, he acknowledges.
3. What differences are there between masculine and feminine?
Because their salary level is much lower, the soccer players ask their agents for much more mundane things such as sports equipment or a vehicle to get around. Something like this happened when Seat stopped sponsoring the Spanish team: “I found five of my players without a car. It was quite complicated, but in the end we managed in two or three months for all of them to have one. If this happens to a player, he buys the car he wants and that's it”.
Another of the big differences is the importance that the soccer players give to their training. Virtually all of them are studying something and this is because until recently being a soccer player was not a professional opportunity. "They had very internalized that they would have to live on something else," she says. According to a recent FIFA study, 80% of the players who retire end up bankrupt within five years, and Planas warns: “If they, earning much more, end up like this, what will happen to them? They are very aware of this and that is why they are preparing.”
4. Can a soccer player live?
"The vast majority, yes," replies the agent. And it is that salaries in recent years have been increasing, as well as sponsorship income, and today in Spain we already have a player that exceeds one million euros per year, something unthinkable until very recently. With much more modest salaries than men, the income they obtain through commercial agreements can be up to 50% of their salary. Planas assures that betting on a soccer player has gone from being a social work, to a business: “Investing in women is profitable, the data shows it. Today, for a brand, the return on investment is much higher because they have the social value that they had before, plus the profitability of now”.