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UEFA Women's Champions League

Barcelona vice-president Mestre believes Catalan giants' success can help grow female football

15:57 BST 17/05/2019
Toni Duggan, Barca women
Ahead of Barcelona Femeni's first European final this weekend against Lyon, the team's progression has been reflected upon

Barcelona vice-president Jordi Mestre believes women’s football should be spoken about in equal terms with its male counterpart as the Catalan outfit prepare for Saturday’s Women’s Champions League final against Lyon.

Lluis Cortes’ side will be competing in their first final on Saturday against the competition’s holders and finished second in the Primeira Division Femenina this season, six points behind winners Atletico Madrid.

Speaking exclusively to Goal ahead of the final, Mestre discussed Barcelona’s approach to the ever-growing female side of football.

"Football and society are linked aspects,” he said.

“We must speak about female football as we do with a female surgeon or a female entrepreneur, with no differences.

“Success brings media attention and they bring it to the public. Progressing in the Champions League allowed us to be on the front pages of many newspapers and televisions, this is already a big success.”

Since going professional in 2015, Barcelona Femeni have gone from strength to strength and now sit on the verge of their first major European trophy.

Lyon will be no pushover, though, with the French side unbeaten in the league this season having conceded just six goals in 22 games.

“[Lyon] have won UCL many times because, between other aspects, they have a higher budget than us and they don't have the amount of professional teams as we have,” continued Mestre.

“The female team has shown a very high capacity for progression.

“They turned from an amateur team with no professional local players and a low budget to a professional team since 2015, with a higher budget and resources and a lot of local and international players whereas the male team experienced this process a long time ago."

While women’s football is on the rise, it is yet to reach the levels of male football and there still remains a number of barriers preventing its progression.

Mestre knows that being successful as a team and lifting as many trophies as possible can help to draw bigger crowds, however, with the club’s ultimate goal being “to win the Liga, Copa and challenge for the Champions League.”

“We have a very important role here,” added Mestre.

“I’ve known the female team since we arrived in 2010 and since then it has grown a lot, not only at Barcelona.

“In our case, winning the league in 2011 allowed us to play in the Champions League and we felt a big improvement which was reflected in the social aspect, and it has kept growing since then.

“After that, Iberdrola joined as a sponsor and the games began to be televised and now the engagement is even higher.”

Now, Barcelona are one step away from progressing even further as a club and lifting the Champions League trophy – but Mestre believes that getting to the final is a success within itself.

"Reaching the semi-finals and now the final is already a success,” he said.

“We began in 2010 with no titles and we were able to win La Liga, Copa de la Reina and Copa Catalunya, and we have been growing in Europe – but winning the Champions League would be a good prize."