US Soccer held its annual general meeting in San Antonio from February 26-28. The summary they released contained a lot of good information, including the usual financial statements. Sunil Gulati was optimistic in his opening remarks, bringing up that USSF's finances "are in an extraordinarily good place today."
Part of that rosy outlook is the women's team outperforming their projected budget. Even though Women's World Cup revenues didn't keep pace with expenses (to the tune of a $2.2M deficit), the projected non-World Cup event revenue for fiscal year 2016 ending March 31 is $23.6M, thanks in large part to the Victory Tour and apparel sales around the World Cup. Non-World Cup WNT events are projected to account for 41% of revenue from all national team games in FY2016.
As mentioned above, in FY2017, USSF is budgeting for another 10-game Victory Tour should the WNT win gold at the Olympics, meaning its spending on the WNT will grow again even after it jumped sharply in a World Cup year.
WNT administration costs are also increasing steadily, an indication of the federation's increased overall investment into the women's team. The fed spent $109k in FY2014, and has budgeted almost $150k for FY2017, an increase of 37%.
NWSL's budget is interesting. As you can see, after the initial jump in funding from fiscal year 2014 to '15, the league's budget is now gradually tapering off. This could partially be a result of USSF initially allocating 26 Americans to the league, then 25 the next season, then 24 the next. It might also incidate decreased front office costs for US Soccer - either simply cutting down, or seeing NWSL taking over increased front office duties as it grows.
WNT youth team spending, however, will see a slight dip, and with $2.9M budgeted for fiscal year 2017, will receive slightly less than half the MNT's $6.0M youth budget. To be expected, considering the federation's longer history of developing the MNT youth side, but still an indicator that there's progress to be made.
So what's the overall financial picture for the WNT? They're bringing in more money than the fed thought they would and USSF is putting more money into them. Their budget is even increasing for the next fiscal year despite the Olympics arguably not being the same tentpole women's soccer event as the World Cup. The budget will obviously dip again after the Olympics are over, but will hopefully demonstrate an overall upwards trend by being equal to or greater than the FY2014 budget.
What these numbers help show is, if we're reducing things to cold, hard numbers the WNT is pulling their weight. But the only reason they're able to do so is because of the investment put into the team back when they didn't have the numbers to back up any claims to USSF's budget.
At FIFA's Women's Football and Leadership Conference, BBC's Director of Sport Barbara Slater pointed out that the broadcast of women's sports shouldn't always be numbers-driven. Small things grow because of the investment put into them, not because they start off being popular and fiscally solvent. The USWNT is a dominant world power now partly because US Soccer made an earlier investment than other nations, an oversight that many other federations are now correcting. The increase in parity between top national teams in just the last eight years is a massive testament to the power of investment in women's soccer.
So keep that money coming, USSF. This team will make good on it.