Wellington Phoenix vice-captain Chloe Knott has stepped away from football after finding her financial obligations too much to stay in the sport. The A-League Women's side confirmed Knott, 27, has been granted a release from her contract just five days after scoring the winner in her team's 2-1 win over Perth Glory and just six weeks into the season.
The experienced midfielder has not missed a single match in Phoenix's history, taking to social media to explain her decision "The decision to leave the team has been the toughest one I've ever had to make and is not something I have taken lightly," she wrote.
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"Although the current financial situation is unsustainable for female footballers, it is not the only factor leading to my decision to leave the club. After being here for the start of the season, it’s become clear that my values no longer align with the club or current management. It is important for me to be in an environment that prioritises honesty, authenticity and genuine care for every individual and their development on and off the field.
"I feel lucky for all the lessons and experiences I have had over the past three seasons, and mostly for the connections and friendships I'll have for the rest of my life. I'm at a stage in my life where I feel free and empowered to choose the spaces that are most conducive to my personal fulfilment and becoming the person I want to be."
Knott scored five goals in Phoenix's 38 ALW games to date and coach Paul Temple said the club will continue to support her as she searches for a better work-life balance. "I want to thank Chloe for the fantastic service she's given this team and the club," Temple said. "Her attitude and commitment have always been incredibly professional. She's an amazing person and we will certainly miss having her presence around the training ground.
"It's without doubt disappointing to lose a player like Chloe, but we have to respect her decision and support her in finding a better work-life balance. In a way, it's fitting she was able to finish up scoring the winning goal in her hometown."
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Knott's decision to walk away underlines the financial pressures experienced by many ALW players. According to the Professional Footballers Australia's (PFA) 2022-23 A-League Women report, many players were "feeling the strain of increasing football demands in a context where their careers are not yet full-time professional".
The PFA survey revealed 60 per cent of ALW players had to work another job outside of playing professional football to make ends meet. Many of the player's signed to the league last season made around or just above the minimum salary of $20,608 for a 29-week contract. The minimum wage for this season, which is a 35-week contract, is $25,000.
- with AAP
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