Natalie Portman attends LA Dance Project’s 2019 Fundraising Gala on October 19, 2019 in Los Angeles, California.
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Women’s soccer is coming to Los Angeles.
The National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) has added an expansion team in Los Angeles led by top venture capitalists, including Kara Nortman, Julie Uhrman, and Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian. The new club, announced on Tuesday, will be the first majority women-owned team.
The Los Angeles club will debut in Spring 2022 and become the league’s 11th team. Though an official name will be revealed later, the group has been calling itself “Angel City” in honor of its new hometown, the league said.
“We’ve long sought the right partner in LA considering the NWSL fanbase that already exists in the region and the massive interest in women’s soccer in general,” NWSL Commissioner Lisa Baird said in a statement. “Those factors, along with an incredible ownership group, make this an ideal situation and we couldn’t be more thrilled to move forward.”
Former U.S. Women’s National Team stars Mia Hamm, Abby Wambach, Lauren Cheney Holiday, Rachel Buehler and Julie Foudy will also be involved in the “first women majority-owned and led ownership” group, according to the league’s statement. Also, Hollywood stars led by Academy Award-winning actress and activist Natalie Portman, Jennifer Garner, Eva Longoria and Cindy Holland, Netflix’s VP of original content, are stakeholders in the club.
“Today we take an exciting step by announcing the first women majority-owned and led ownership group,” Portman said in a statement. “I am thrilled by the opportunity to partner with this incredible group of people to bring a professional women’s soccer team to Los Angeles. Together, we aim to build not only a winning team on the field but also to develop a passionately loyal fan base.”
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The LA club is the second added since last October when NWSL said the Louisville team of the United Soccer League Championship would have its women’s club in place by the 2021 season. Based in Chicago, the NWSL is a single-entity operation that is supported by CONCACAF.
The NWSL became the first U.S. professional soccer league to return to play from Covid-19 on June 27 with its 2020 NWSL Challenge Cup in Utah. The league also entered a multiyear media rights agreement with CBS Sports and used its partnership with Octagon to negotiate the deal.
The league also has partnerships in place with Google, Nike, Procter and Gamble, and Amazon’s Twitch Interactive. Though the league is experiencing growth since beginning play in 2013, Baird said the NWSL would continue to “be strategic and thoughtful about how fast we expand and the communities we partner.”
The Los Angeles club said it will also support the Play Equity Fund and will partner with LA84 Foundation to “help us build out our community relations foundation from the very start,” said Uhrman, also the club’s president.
“We come together with a collective passion for bringing about change,” Uhrman said. “Change for our players, change for our fans, and change for our community. Change that begins today.”