Ahead of the 2023 National Women’s Soccer League Championship Commissioner Jessica Berman spoke with media to provide updates on the state of the league. Here are the key takeaways.
Expansion process open
After the conclusion of Saturday’s NWSL Championship, the league will officially open the expansion process to find NWSL team No. 16. Berman shared that their “preliminary analysis of the landscape is that we have more than a dozen qualified investor groups from different markets around the U.S.”
Team 16 will begin league play in 2026 alongside a Boston team that has already been awarded its expansion rights as the league’s 15th team. There are multiple groups that have publicly declared their intention to bring an NWSL team to their market, Denver among them. Bay FC and Utah Royals FC will begin play in 2024 as teams 13 and 14.
2024 Olympic break
The commissioner confirmed Friday that the NWSL will not play any regular season matches during the Paris Olympics, as reported by Jeff Kassouf in August. It is likely that NWSL teams will still play some friendly matches during that Olympics window, according to multiple sources, but plans are yet to be finalized.
No confirmation was given in regards to Kassouf’s reporting that the Challenge Cup is going away in 2024 and that it will be replaced by a single match between the 2023 NWSL Champions and the 2023 NWSL Shield winners.
Women’s League Forum
In addition to the massive new media rights deal Berman announced some more ‘groundbreaking’ news in collaboration with professional women’s leagues around the world. She was proud to announce the official formation of a the Womens’ League Forum, a version of the men’s World League Forum for women’s leagues.
Berman said they had been meeting informally for the past 15 months and found it to be so productive that they decided to formalize the group. The forum will be co-chaired by Berman and Annika Grälls, president of Sweden’s women’s professional leagues.
As of right now the ‘collective group’ is made up of 11 professional women’s leagues from around the world including the NWSL, Liga MX Feminil, Sweden’s Damallsvenskan, and more, though more specifics were not shared. While there are only 11 current members, Grälls said they do expect more leagues to join over time as we see increasing professionalization.
For the first time in their short existence, the group met around a professional club tournament instead of an international tournament, as they met for multiple days ahead of the championship match. The goals of these meetings were “to share ideas and best practices and identify ways that we could work in the collective to advocate and share best practices around how we can advance the global game and the professionalization of the club game knowing that we are the daily training environment for these players and that we are really important component of the global ecosystem,” Berman told media.
Sales still on track
Though the Chicago Red Stars completed their ownership sale in the summer and have already begun the work of rebuilding, two NWSL clubs remain up for sale in Cascadia rivals OL Reign and Portland Thorns FC. There has been scattered reporting about potential new ownership groups for these franchises but both are still actively engaged in the sale process. Berman re-affirmed Friday what she said before the Challenge Cup final, that both sales are expected to be completed by the end of this calendar year.
Your accountSign in
/ 14 hours ago
Just four days before her 18th birthday, Gisele Thompson decided to forgo college soccer...
/ 21 hours ago
2024 will be a year of fresh starts for England and head coach Sarina...
/ 4 days ago
Inverted fullbacks are in vogue. They are the tactical concept of the time, but...