New NWSL Commissioner discusses equity in women’s soccer

Jessica Berman spoke about her hope for the future and also pointed out that she has seen the challenges within the league firsthand.

SEATTLE — It was a different tone at Sunday’s Lumen Field Pitch.

“I feel a tremendous sense of gratitude and responsibility for truly realizing the potential of this league,” said National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) commissioner Jessica Berman.

In contrast to last autumn, when reports of alleged abuse by coach Paul Riley had the world of women’s football in suspense. Riley previously coached the Portland Thorns.

“All the challenges I’ve heard about and even witnessed firsthand in my first three months here are honestly exactly what I expected,” Berman said.

Berman took up the post in April and is already dealing with inequality of justice in all its forms.

“Right now, our approach is to figure out how to make sure their health and reproductive rights are available,” Berman said.

Of the 12 teams in the NWSL, a handful are in states with some form of abortion ban, such as Texas, which has an outright ban, and Florida, which has a pregnancy restriction in place.

“At the league level, we’re trying to find national solutions that take that into account,” Berman said.

The NWSL also considers states with abortion bans in its future expansion.

This comes as one of the league’s largest partnerships, Voyager, files for bankruptcy.

“We’re currently in a court case, so there’s not much to say about the status of the players,” Berman said.

There have been questions about the amount of money the cryptocurrency company paid to the league versus players before applying for Chapter 13.

“If there is indeed a disparity between the league’s positioning and the players at the end of this process, we will reassess the entire scope and make sure we’re doing the right thing for our players,” Berman said.

For the first time, there will be a dedicated league-wide executive tasked with diversity equity inclusion.

“It feels like all the ingredients are there to take this league to the next level and deliver for the players and the owners,” said Berman.

In terms of that expansion, the NWSL has had great success with its last two teams in San Diego and Los Angeles. The league plans to continue this expansion in the coming years, which Berman says is an indication of where the league is headed. New NWSL Commissioner discusses equity in women’s soccer

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