The home field for FC Barcelona’s women’s squad, FC Barcelona Femení, is located nearby to the famous Camp Nou. Johan Cruff Stadium seats 6,000 and usually brings in a crowd of close to 5,000 spectators. For women’s sports worldwide, that’s a large following.
However, FC Barcelona blew previous records out of the water with their 30 March UEFA Women’s Champion’s League match. The game was their second leg against Real Madrid, which ended in an emphatic 5-2 win.
The teams faced off at Camp Nou and drew in a crowd of 91,553 spectators. For context, Estadio Santiago Bernabeu holds a record of 129,690 for a men’s match held back in 1956. This blowout record for women’s football could be a game-changer for women’s leagues.
For example, the US is undergoing a sports betting boom, which has seen added interest in new leagues and teams coming from sports fans, ranging across the WNBA to the LPGA. With offers like no deposit bonus codes on the table, fans are more likely than ever to uncover a new and interesting sport. And given FC Barcelona’s stellar performance this year, the team is busy attracting new fans around the world.
Topping a Treble
As of mid-April, FC Barcelona (Femení) stands in a dominative position at the top of the Primera Division in Spain. In fact, they were named the de facto champions of the Primera Division after a strong 5-0 win against Real Madrid in mid-March, weeks before almost selling out Camp Nou.
The team, led by Jonatan Giráldez, will take home its third consecutive Primera Division title—and possibly its second treble. Last year, FC Barcelona became the first Spanish women’s team to nab Europe’s treble, which includes a Primera Division win, UEFA Women’s Champion’s League win, and Spain’s Copa de la Reina.
So far this year, FC Barcelona has scooped its Primera Division and Copa de la Reina titles. The latter came after a 7-0 clobbering of Atletico Madrid in late January. Now, the team will begin its semi-finals UEFA Women’s Champion’s League battle against VfL Wolfsburg.
Meanwhile at Camp Nou…
FC Barcelona Femení’s victory couldn’t come at a better time for the club. Since November, Xavi Hernandez has been attempting to steer the men’s side back into a winning position after taking over from Ronald Koeman—and after losing Messi to PSG during the summer transfer window.
The team has struggled to find a rhythm. Recently, they were knocked out of the UEFA Europa League quarter-finals after losing to Eintracht Frankfurt 3-2, which came after a knockout from the Champion’s League from Bayern Munich and Benfica.
However, Xavi’s leadership has seen major improvements in the team’s La Liga standings. The Blaugranas are currently scrapping for second place with Sevilla and Atlético Madrid.
Future for Femení
One of the key challenges for the women’s league is finding and keeping dedicated fans. Part of this is due to how many established leagues there are. FC Barcelona Femení is only playing its 35th season, compared to the men’s side, which was founded in 1899.
The sold-out crowd attending the 30 March UEFA Women’s Champion League game is a key indicator that trends are shifting. This bodes well from a business perspective, as the women’s side can demonstrate that it has a following that will buy tickets and merchandise.
From a sports perspective, the consequences are even larger. Barça forward, Caroline Graham, said she had goosebumps because of the crowd’s power and passion. Another player, Alexia Putellas, said the night was a dream come true. Aside from empowering the team’s current roster to continue in a strong fashion, the record attendance is also a sign to other female athletes that they can find meaningful work as a sportsperson.
This is incredibly important. At the moment, FC Barcelona Femení players are paid much less than their male counterparts; Frankie De Jong makes £354,000 a week, while the aforementioned Putellas makes £2,389. However, the current FC Barcelona Femení squad started before its adoption by the Blaugranas in 2002.
In fact, the original team, Selecció Ciutat de Barcelona, played at Camp Nou back in 1970 in an exhibition match—ten years before FIFA started organizing women’s football.