“The response we got was extraordinary,” Stillitano said. “Every team was like, ‘Oh, can we send our women this year?’ And we just couldn’t, as an inaugural event, have 16 teams to launch it. This is just something we’re going to have to grow. We’re just trying to grow it properly.”
Stillitano and Relevent’s managing partner, Jon Sheiman, said part of the company’s motivation was to reinvest some of the profits it had begun to make after years of successful exhibition tours back into the game, and particularly in the women’s game. But Sheiman also said Relevent took pains not to appear to big-foot the American players, leagues and owners who have exerted considerable effort — and invested considerable sums — in backing professional women’s soccer.
So while they said they could have filled a four-team field with European squads quickly, Sheiman said it would have been “irresponsible” not to have a National Women’s Soccer League team involved.
Before the inaugural weekend tournament in July, the women’s teams from Europe will gather in Portland, Ore., for several days of training. The teams will work out privately but also alongside a…