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NWSL Commissioner Jessica Berman to lead charge for expansion

NWSL Commissioner Jessica Berman said that the league is "not finished expanding," according to Ryan Gerbosi of NEWSDAY. Berman will soon be "leading the process of bringing top-level women's soccer to more markets, although none would see play begin before 2024." Berman yesterday at the Associated Press Sports Editors Commissioners meetings in N.Y. said, "I expect in this calendar year that we'll be starting and concluding an expansion process. ... We believe that we need at least a year to properly ramp up a new team. So, expansion is currently being looked at for all the 2024 season. Some number of additional teams, that number is still to be determined." Suitable infrastructure "will be just one of many components taken into account by the league in its expansion efforts." Berman said, "There's so many different factors to consider. One of them is the competitive landscape of the market as it relates to more broadly entertainment, but more specifically, sports and even more specifically, women's sports." She added, "We're looking at the national footprint, looking at division alignment, looking at media markets. ... The other two factors that are a priority are facilities and ownership" (NEWSDAY, 5/10).

NOT RUNNING FROM TOUGH SUBJECTS: The Houston Dash last month suspended coach & GM James Clarkson amid an “investigation into … complaints of discrimination, harassment and abuse,” and in L.A., Kevin Baxter writes Berman “didn’t run from the controversy but embraced it as evidence that the league is serious about cleaning up its act.” She said, “We want our fans and the players to have confidence that this process is being administered thoroughly and diligently. And that’s exactly what we’re doing. So even though it’s not good news and not what we want to be announcing, at the end of the day the integrity of our league and the product is what matters most.” More Berman: “We made a commitment to the players and to our owners that in the event there were issues, we would move swiftly to address them. We are committed to providing a positive work environment for our players. So I’m not happy that we have the situation. But I’m proud that we have a mechanism to address it" (L.A. TIMES, 5/10).

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