91,553 Reasons to Watch Women’s Soccer: Barcelona v. Real Madrid Champions League Match Breaks Attendance Record

Following the recent triumph of the equal pay settlement for the United States Women’s National Team against the U.S. Soccer Federation, women’s soccer has achieved yet another great victory this year.

History was made on March 30 in the stands of Camp Nou, the largest soccer stadium in Europe. In Barcelona, Spain, 91,553 fans gathered to watch the Union of European Football Associations’ (UEFA) Women’s Champions League quarterfinal between Barcelona and Real Madrid. This marked the largest attendance ever for a women’s soccer match. Barcelona, relishing the immense fan support, defeated Real Madrid and secured a spot in the Champions League semifinal where they will face German side Wolfsburg later this month.

The Barcelona and Real Madrid match-up was quite the spectacle for the world-record crowd.

Defender Mapi Leon scored early on in the match for Barcelona, but Real Madrid quickly turned around with two goals of their own from forward Olga Carmona and midfielder Claudia Zornoza. Barcelona came back with a vengeance in the second half, with goals from midfielder Aitana Bonmati, forward Claudia Pina, midfielder Alexia Putellas, and forward Caroline Graham Hansen, to solidify a 5-2 quarterfinal win.

Home games for the Barcelona women’s team are usually played at the Estadi Johan Cruyff, a smaller 6,000-seat stadium on the club’s training grounds. Yet, due to the incredible demand for tickets, the game had to be moved to Camp Nou in order to accommodate the crowd. This was only the second time Barcelona has played a competitive game in the 99,000 seat stadium.

The players were ecstatic about the turnout. 

Both on the field and in the stands, emotions were running wild. “At the end of the match I had to hold my tears back because this is just too crazy,” said Barcelona player Caroline Graham Hansen.

Alexia Putellas, a midfielder on the Barcelona team, echoed similar sentiments. “I’m speechless. It’s a dream come true. I can only answer with more work, getting better, and winning games, so we can give them a big spectacle,” she added.

This kind of immense turnout was something previously unimaginable for the women’s players. “I did not imagine anything like it, goosebumps all over the place,” continued Hansen. “It’s not only 91,500 here tonight, it’s 91,500 Barca fans here tonight and they have been singing all game and it’s been amazing.”

The former record for attendance at a women’s soccer match was set in 2019. At an Atletico Madrid vs. Barcelona game, 60,739 fans packed the Metropolitano stadium. Wednesday’s attendance at the Barcelona vs. Real Madrid match smashed this record by more than 30,000 fans.

The players are hopeful this sizable crowd will not be a one-time occurrence. “It’s something I never dreamt of happening, but we did it and hopefully it’s not the last time we do this,” said Hansen.

Not only did Wednesday’s match break the record for numbers in attendance at a women’s soccer game, but it also broke the overall record for numbers in attendance at any women’s game. This record was set in 1999 at the women’s World Cup final between the U.S. and China, with 90,195 fans packed in the Rose Bowl stadium. After a long 23 years, this record has finally been broken. This moment holds great significance for the future of the women’s game. “This can be the start of a new era,” said Putellas. “This game is going to inspire a lot of people, especially girls.” It also marks a significant moment in history for all women’s sports. “I saw a lot of girls, children with that spark in their eyes. It’s amazing to be part of history.”

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