Liga MX Femenil head Mariana Gutierrez Bernardez has set an ambitious target to make her league the best in the world.
The Mexican women’s top flight has only been in existence since 2016, but has already made major strides as it develops a foothold in Mexico and beyond.
In 2019, the first leg of its final drew more TV viewers in the U.S. than the NWSL final, with the standard of play continuing to improve and the built-in advantage of clubs with major brand recognition like Club America and Chivas.
Speaking to Goal, Bernardez admits that she is aiming high amid a push for larger salaries and high-profile foreign signings.
When asked about her league’s future ambitions on All of US: The U.S. Women’s Soccer Show, Bernardez says: “That's an easy one, we want to be the best league in the world.
“We're working on that, we understand we have everything to become one of the biggest, toughest leagues in the world.
“We understand that because we see the investment, we see the interest of the clubs, we see the interest of national teams.
“We need to keep investing. This is my call to action, always. This is the biggest moment for the game, it is the fastest growing sport in the world. And this is the moment for brands to invest.”
Liga MX Femenil looks to boost salaries
The focus on low salaries in the women’s game has increased this season amid the NWSL’s “No More Side Hustles” campaign, which has aimed to ensure the league's players earn enough to not have to work second jobs.
Bernardez admits that the majority of Liga MX Femenil players also have to work multiple jobs, acknowledging that the long-term sustainability of the league will heavily depend on its ability to boost salaries across the board.
“This is the main topic for each league in the world for the women's side,” Bernardez says of increasing salaries. “It's a challenge for each league.
“We understand that our main purpose is to become a sustainable league and as a result, our players are going to be able to lift up this profession. So, this is our main objective, that's what we'll be trying to build.”
Signing a USWNT star?
This season marked the first time that Liga MX Femenil teams have been eligible to sign players from abroad.
Though the league has sold several players to teams outside of Mexico, Bernardez is hoping to flip the script and start targeting the best talent from other leagues.
That could eventually include a player from the U.S. national team, with Bernardez hopeful that her league could one day be the home of major foreign stars.
“The media or people always ask this question: ‘How can we take our best players offshore?’ And I always ask: ‘Why do we want to send our best players overseas and not bring the best players to our league?’” Bernardez says when asked about signing a USWNT player in the future.
“Our vision is not to take our best players offshore, it’s that the best players come here because we are going to be that top league. We're very ambitious on that.”