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Andi Sullivan calls out ‘frustrating’ NWSL prize money situation

Andi Sullivan and the Washington Spirit made a run to the Challenge Cup final in 2022. (Amber Searls/USA TODAY Sports)

The increased Challenge Cup prize pool spotlights the growth of the NWSL, but the $1 million in prize money also has left some players frustrated — not by the amount, but by its relative worth compared to the NWSL Championship.

While the exact payouts for Challenge Cup-winning players have not been announced, the prize money could outstrip the bonuses players earn for winning the NWSL title.

Washington Spirit midfielder Andi Sullivan said Tuesday that she appreciates the increase to the Challenge Cup prize pool, she still finds it “frustrating” that the winners of the in-season tournament could take home more money than the NWSL champions.

Player salaries have increased significantly under the league’s new CBA. Additionally, winners of the NWSL Championship and the NWSL Shield (awarded to the team with the best regular-season record) receive bonuses of at least $5,000, per the CBA.

But with UKG’s new investment in the Challenge Cup, winners of the in-season tournament could earn significantly more. Last season’s Challenge Cup handed out $10,000 each to players on the winning team, the same amount earned by players on the NWSL Shield-winning OL Reign.

“It cannot be more than” the Shield or Championship, OL Reign midfielder Jess Fishlock wrote on Twitter of the Challenge Cup prize pool. “Those things are ELITE and the Shield is literally the toughest thing to do.”