Women’s soccer reached a huge milestone Wednesday thanks to one of the sport’s deepest rivalries. The UEFA Women’s Champions League quarterfinal between Barcelona and Real Madrid at Camp Nou drew 91,553 supporters, an official world record for a women’s soccer match.
That attendance number far surpasses the previous official high for a club match: 60,739 for an Atletico Madrid vs. Barcelona game at Wanda Metropolitano in 2019. It’s also higher than the crowd of 90,185 that attended the World Cup final between the U.S. and China at the Rose Bowl in 1999. There were also unofficial reports of 110,000 fans at the 1971 Women’s World Cup final between Mexico and Denmark in Mexico City.
Barcelona, the game’s host, repaid their fans’ historic support with a 5-2 win to reach the Champions League semifinals. After the game, Barca winger Caroline Graham Hansen chose to revel in the moment rather than look ahead.
“At the end of the match I had to hold my tears back because this is just too crazy,” said Graham Hansen, who scored the game’s final goal in the 70th minute. “It’s one thing to play at Camp Nou, but when it’s full, winning 5-2 in the Champions League and the fans aren’t leaving, they’re staying to celebrate with us. I did not imagine anything like it, goosebumps all over the place.”
This is only the second time Barcelona, who normally play their home games at the 6,000-seat Johan Cruyff Stadium, have played at Camp Nou. It is, however, the first time Barca has played at Camp Nou in front of fans, as the team beat Espanyol 5-0 there last season in a game closed to fans because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Alexia Putellas, who led Barcelona to their first Champions League trophy last year and helped the team win its third consecutive Spanish Supercopa title this season, thinks Wednesday’s game can bring “the start of a new era.”
“I knew I could play football, but it did not seem accessible on this scale,” said Putellas, a team captain and 2021 Ballon d’Or winner, before the game. “That’s why this match can mark a before and after because Barca are the biggest club in the world and they have a voice.”