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Barcelona: We’ll have a team in NWSL for 2018

A spokesperson for global soccer giant Barcelona said on Thursday that the club intends to field a team in NWSL for the 2018 season. This is not the first time Barcelona has been linked to NWSL, but the wording was firm, indicating the club believes it is a done deal. No city was named but the Twitter account @BarcaWomen said it would be a standalone club and the 11th in NWSL.

Although the NWSL did not immediately comment in regards to Barcelona’s claims, the league has since released a formal statement on the matter.

“We were pleased to learn that earlier today the FC Barcelona Board of Directors approved a development plan for women’s soccer in the United States and we look forward to continuing discussions with the club regarding expansion into the NWSL.”

Barcelona, whose women’s club became the first Spanish side to reach the semifinals of the Champions League last month, opened a permanent office in New York City last fall in an attempt to grow its brand around the world. In the last two weeks Barcelona has expanded its U.S. presence by announcing academies in Chicago and San Diego. That brings the total to six in the states—Fort Lauderdale, Austin, Charlotte, and Northern Virginia are the others. There are also multiple Barcelona academies in Canada.

The last NWSL expansion came for the 2016 season when the Orlando Pride became the 10th team. Jeff Plush, commissioner at that time, indicated that he preferred keeping the number of teams in the league even meaning further expansion would be in groups of two. As recently as January, Plush was bullish on the level of interest from potential ownership groups.

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