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The Equalizer at Soccerex: How can women’s soccer realize its commercial potential?

How can women’s soccer realize its commercial potential?

How much time do you have? The first question is one so many of us in this industry ponder every day. Women’s soccer is a commercial sleeping giant waiting for the right, committed investment to wake it. We’ve seen through the growth of the U.S. women’s national team that there are opportunities for significant commercial opportunity. In so many cases, what’s lacking is the initial commitment.

On Thursday, Nov. 15, in Miami, I’ll be hosting a panel at Soccerex discussing this very topic. Joining me will be: Amanda Duffy, NWSL managing director of operations; Mike Golub, Portland Thorns/Timbers president of business; Karina LeBlanc, head of Concacaf women’s soccer; and Pedro Malabia, LaLiga women’s football director.

During our session, we will discuss the growing popularity of women’s soccer, both in the United States and abroad. We will analyze the growth of the sport and how the forthcoming 2019 Women’s World Cup could impact commercial activity around women’s soccer. What needs to be done for the women’s game to realize its full commercial potential in the U.S. and across the globe? That’s a big question, and we’ll do our best to answer it on our panel in thought-provoking ways.

Our panel provides a wonderful mix of voices who have experience in all aspects of the game, from playing, to league management and team management, both in the U.S. and abroad.

For more information on Soccerex, and to purchase tickets to attend, click here. Keep your eyes on this space for more information on the event and insight into some key personalities.

Here’s some background on our speakers:

Amanda Duffy joined the NWSL in 2017 as managing director after previous work in various capacities with the USL, including senior director of the former W-League. In October 2014, she joined USL member Louisville City FC as VP of operations, and was promoted to general manager two months later. The following year, she became club president before joining the NWSL in December 2016.

Mike Golub has more than 30 years of experience in professional sports marketing and management, having worked at Nike and with MLB, the NHL and the NBA before joining the Portland Timbers in 2009. Golub oversaw the launch of the MLS-era Timbers as well as the Thorns’ birth in the NWSL. He oversees all business functions for the Timbers, Thorns and Timbers 2.

Karina LeBlanc has been working with Concacaf for over a year, and in August became the confederation’s head of women’s football. In that role, she is developing the women’s game throughout the region, increasing opportunities to access the sport at the grassroots levels and at the highest level of competition. LeBlanc played for the Canadian women’s national team for nearly two full decades, winning an Olympic bronze medal in 2012. She played professionally in all three U.S. leagues to date – the WUSA, WPS and the NWSL.

Pedro Malabia has been involved in women’s soccer for more than 20 years, since starting a girls team which eventually developed into the women’s side of LaLiga club Valencia. Malabia joined LaLiga as women’s football director in 2015. In the role, he serves as the lead figure in growing and professionalizing women’s soccer in Spain, including pioneering efforts to get major men’s LaLiga clubs to invest in women’s teams. Previously, Malabia was head of women’s football competitions at FIFA.

About me: I’ve covered soccer professionally for the last decade, with a particular focus on advancing the women’s game. I founded The Equalizer in 2009, and have overseen its growth in setting the standard in women’s soccer media coverage in the United States. I worked for NBC Sports & Olympics, covering the London 2012 Games and Sochi 2014 Games as part of Sports Emmy-winning teams. I was embedded with the U.S. team for the entirety of its 2015 Women’s World Cup triumph, for NBC and EQZ. More recently, I ran FourFourTwo’s U.S. venture, building it as the first U.S.-based employee in the brand’s 20-plus year history.

READ MORE: How Karina LeBlanc is building the women’s game through Concacaf

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