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Jessica Berman named new National Women’s Soccer League commissioner

▶ Watch Video: New National Women’s Soccer League commissioner revealed

Veteran professional sports executive Jessica Berman has been named as the new commissioner of the National Women’s Soccer League. 

Berman is used to being the only woman in the room in male sports leagues. She spent two and a half years as the deputy commissioner ‘for the National Lacrosse League. Prior to that, she’s held executive roles at the NHL for 13 years. 

“I’m very aware of the fact that I don’t look like the other people who work in the sports industry,” Berman said in an exclusive interview with “CBS Mornings.”

Berman said she’s looking to increase its popularity that athletes like  Megan Rapinoe, Alex Morgan, and Carli Lloyd have grown in recent years.

“Let’s be honest, these women are icons, not just female icons, they are icons. These athletes are worth watching,” Berman said. “I’m so excited to support them and celebrate their stories.”

Her hiring comes months after former commissioner, Lisa Baird, resigned amid allegations of abuse against former coach Paul Riley. Riley said the majority of the allegations are untrue. Baird said she took “full responsibility” when she resigned. 

Berman said she is working in conjunction with the league and the board to make sure players feel safe and make sure they feel valued. 

“Well, first of all, the health and safety of our players is the utmost priority, both emotionally and physically. I’m fortunate that I’m walking into a situation where over the last six months things have really stabilized under the current leadership and with the board,” she said. “We’re now working in conjunction with the players association and all the players to handle the investigation and make sure that we put forward the type of league that every player feels proud to play in.”

It also comes just weeks after the U.S. Soccer Federation and U.S. women’s soccer players settled in a landmark agreement over equal pay.

Berman said that women’s sports across all leagues are seeing a shift in their narrative and how female athletes are viewed.

“It’s happening. You are seeing it in soccer. You see it in tennis, right… And the female athletes that play in those sports are really starting to transcend the cultural narrative. We have to also be aware that we are a business. So it has to be built sustainably,” she said. 

“I think certainly for these athletes in the NWSL they have proven their worth and they deserve to be celebrated and acknowledged,” Berman said. 

 National Women’s Soccer League Players Association Executive Director Meghann Burke said, they “support the selection of Commissioner Berman and look forward to working alongside her to achieve the common goal of building an NWSL that sets the global standard for women’s professional soccer.” 



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