Spearheaded by an ownership group featuring prominent local businesswomen, female Hollywood stars and former women’s World Cup players, a Los Angeles franchise in the National Women’s Soccer League will begin play in 2022.
NWSL Commissioner Lisa Baird announced the team, Angel City, on July 21, just days before the league stages its Challenge Cup championship game. The NWSL was the first pro sports league to resume play under the Covid-19 pandemic safety restrictions.
Angel City’s ownership group includes Oscar-winning actress Natalie Portman, Upfront Ventures executive Kara Nortman and team president Julie Uhrman, a former exec at Lions Gate and video game console company OUYA.
Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian, the husband of Serena Williams, is the lead founding investor of the group through his firm Initialized Capital.
“We’ve long sought the right partner in L.A. considering the NWSL fanbase that already exists in the region and the massive interest in women’s soccer in general,” 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.”
Angel City will be the first pro women’s soccer team in the region in more than a decade. Women’s Professional Soccer had the L.A. Sol for one season in 2010, before it folded, and the league disbanded the next year. The NWSL launched in 2013 with eight teams.
Among the former U.S. National Team players who have signed on as investors is Mia Hamm, who with husband Nomar Garciaparra is also an investor in Major League Soccer’s Los Angeles Football Club. Hamm also played for the Women’s United Soccer Association, the first women’s pro soccer league launched in 2001.
Other Angel City investors include Netflix Vice President Cindy Holland, actresses Jennifer Garner, Eva Longoria, Uzo Aduba and America Ferrera, as well as talk-show host and comedian Lilly Singh.
Financial terms of the deal for the franchise rights were not disclosed.
The team’s launch in L.A. will come a year after the delayed Summer Olympics take place in Tokyo and the year before the 2023 Women’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand.
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