Hollywood stars team up with ex-players to bring NWSL to Los Angeles

Australian Open – Third Round – Melbourne Park, Melbourne, Australia – January 24, 2020 Serena Williams of the U.S. in action during the match against China’s Qiang Wang REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach

Academy Award-winning actress Natalie Portman and a consortium consisting primarily of women were awarded the rights to a Los Angeles-based franchise in the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) on Tuesday.

Portman joined Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian, tech venture capitalist Kara Nortman and video game entrepreneur Julie Uhrman as part of the ownership team. Los Angeles will begin to play as NWSL’s 11th team in 2022.

Ohanian’s wife, tennis star Serena Williams, joined 12 former United States Women’s National Team players — including Mia Hamm, Julie Foudy, and Abby Wambach — as part of the founding investor group.

“Today we take an exciting step by announcing the first women majority-owned and led ownership group,” Portman said in a statement released by the league. “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.

“We also hope to make a substantive impact on our community, committing to extending access to sports for young people in Los Angeles through our relationship with the LA84 Foundation. Sports are such a joyful way to bring people together, and this has the power to make a tangible change for female athletes both in our community and in the professional sphere.”

Actresses Jennifer Garner, Eva Longoria, Uzo Aduba, Jessica Chastain, and America Ferrera, as well as late-night talk show host Lilly Singh are also involved with the Los Angeles team.

“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,” 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.”

—Reuters/Field Level Media

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