Soccer: Women's Champions League final shows growth of the sport - NWSL commissioner

FILE PHOTO: Soccer Football - Women’s Champions League - Semi Final - Second Leg - FC Barcelona v Chelsea - Camp Nou, Barcelona, Spain - April 27, 2023 FC Barcelona players celebrate with teammates after the match REUTERS/Albert Gea/File Photo

EINDHOVEN, Netherlands (Reuters) - Saturday's sold out Women's Champions League Final between Barcelona and VfL Wolfsburg is an ideal showcase for the global growth of women's soccer, National Women's Soccer League (NWSL) Commissioner Jessica Berman said on Thursday.

Barcelona hope to collect their second title in three years in a compelling match-up with the Germans, who are desperate to hoist the trophy for the first time since 2014.

More than 34,100 tickets have been sold for the showdown in Eindhoven, Netherlands, European soccer's governing body UEFA said, in the first sold-out final since 2010.

"It shows that there is global interest in women's football and not only around country competitions, but also around club competitions," Berman told Reuters.

"What has been built here in Europe around inter-league club competitions has really shown the rest of the world that there could be global interest in women's club football."

Berman has aggressively pursued expansion in the top-flight American league, which recently awarded expansion rights to a new Bay Area team, allowing it to become the NWSL's 14th club.

Two more teams are expected to join in 2026, Berman told the Washington Post last month.

"What we're doing in the U.S. is an opportunity for others to see what's possible when female athletes are given proper training conditions and playing environment, to be able to perform at the highest level," said Berman.

"It took us some years to get where we are right now, where finally, I would say for all of our clubs, we have appropriate training environments for our players and for our games as well, where our players are playing every single game in front of fans (in stadiums) that can hold more than 10,000 capacity."

Berman expects roughly a third of the NWSL players will feature in the Women's World Cup, which kicks off in Australia and New Zealand on July 20.

"It's going to be competitive," she said. "And I think the competitiveness of the World Cup will be a sign that the global game is growing."

(Reporting by Elena Rodriguez in Eindhoven, Netherlands, writing by Amy Tennery in New York; Editing by Ken Ferris)

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