As NWSL teams await the 2023 regular season schedule, more has come to light about the league’s handling of a packed calendar ahead of the World Cup this summer.
According to a recent report by The Equalizer, in January the NWSL told teams and players that they would no longer be releasing players to their national teams outside of FIFA windows. While that policy is common in international soccer, it is not how the NWSL has historically handled FIFA windows.
The situation became increasingly tenuous over the past month, The Equalizer reported. While NWSL commissioner Jessica Berman and the board of governors opted to strictly enforce the policy, many national team players had plans for extended national team training camps during the February and World Cup international windows.
There was so much pushback, per the report, that USWNT players met with club and league representatives to explain why players needed to be with their teams to prepare for the World Cup. After that meeting, the NWSL changed course for 2023 and granted the release of all international players on Feb. 6 for the current window.
The league will also release players for the World Cup on June 26, a week earlier than it had initially planned and two weeks before the FIFA window opens. The April FIFA window, however, will be enforced.
How the NWSL plans to deal with future FIFA windows remains unclear. The league has long ignored FIFA windows, according to The Equalizer, leading to moments of conflict between players, coaches and the league.
The league has yet to release a schedule for the upcoming season, which is slated to kick off on March 25.