Wellington Phoenix midfielder Chloe Knott has terminated her contract with the A League football club citing the pressures of combining fulltime work and playing professionally.
Knott, 27, who has played in every Phoenix women's A-League game, is putting her professional football career on hold having found it too difficult to work fulltime and be a part-time footballer, while also meeting her financial obligations.
She said she realised she had to put her football career on hold when she found the joy of being in the Phoenix environment was no longer outweighing the financial strain she was under.
"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," she said.
"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," Knott said.
"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.
Knott has played every one of the Phoenix's 38 matches since the women's team was established in 2021.
She has scored five goals including the match-winner against Perth Glory in Auckland on Saturday night.
She was captain for much of the 2022-23 season in the absence of injured club captain Lily Alfeld and was named one of the team's vice-captains under new head coach Paul Temple.
"It's without doubt disappointing to lose a player like Chloe, but we have to respect her decision and support her with finding a better work-life balance...her attitude and commitment have always been incredibly professional," said Temple.
The Phoenix are now looking at potential replacements for Knott with the squad's depth being tested as fellow midfielder Grace Wisnewski is sidelined for the remainder of the season with a knee injury.
Temple said many of his players are juggling jobs and football.
"Ultimately the wages we are paying across the league, not just the Phoenix, (the players) aren't earning enough for what we are asking them to do so hopefully we can push towards ..raising the salaries raising the (salary) cap raising the bar to pay these athletes more money so it can be more sustainable for them," he said.
Knott's announcement comes after the recent release of a survey by FIFAPRO, the global players union, which showed top flight female players still lacked adequate financial compensation.
The survey of 260 players from 26 of the 32 teams competing at this year's World Cup in New Zealand and Australia found one in five players supplement their income with a second job.
The survey found one in three of those at the tournament earned less than $50 thousand from their national team and clubs combined.
That figure does not include the pre-tax US$30,000 minimum World Cup prize money that players were guaranteed from FIFA.
The total prize money at the women's World Cup, the first where it was guaranteed to go to the players themselves, increased to $150 million, 10 times what it was in 2015 and three times the amount of 2019.
The figure, however, was still dwarfed by the US$440 million prize pool for the men's World Cup in Qatar last year.