New Agency Formed to REP Female Soccer, Basketball Players

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NFL Players Inc. (NFLPI) – the licensing arm of the NFL Players Association — has agreed with the U.S. Women’s National Team Players Association (USWNTPA) and the Women’s National Basketball Players Association (WNBPA) to form REP (Represent Every Player) Worldwide, an agency that will handle player licensing and brand management services.

REP, majority-owned by NFLPI, will represent USWNTPA and WNBPA members for licensing. The WNBPA has had player licensing rights for 15 years, but didn’t exercise them, a spokesman said. And USWNTPA gained player licensing rights as part of a new 5-year collective bargaining agreement struck with United States Soccer Federation (USSF) in April; that agreement takes the players through high-profile events such as the 2019 FIFA World Cup in France and the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo. The union previously had executed licensing deals with Panini and Electronic Arts through USSF.

NFLPI has the licensing structure that the other REP partners have lacked; REP is seeking representation agreements with other player unions, sources say. This is the latest shuffle in player association licensing; last December, as part of a new collective bargaining agreement (which took effect June 30), the National Basketball Players Association re-assumed players’ licensing rights and set up an inhouse licensing operation. The players had previously been represented by the NBA’s licensing department.

REP came together earlier this year. NFLPI approached both organizations, including the USWNTPA in May, shortly after the union signed the new agreement with USSF, industry sources say. The WNBPA had discussions with a “variety of firms” during the past year before being approached by NFLPI at the start of the WNBA season this past summer, a WNBPA spokesman said. The WNBPA’s executive committee took the lead in pursuing a licensing program as the players gained a higher profile with fans.