New Women’s Soccer Team, Founded by Women, Will Press Equal Pay Cause

Kara Nortman’s path to proudly owning knowledgeable ladies’s soccer group started in Vancouver, British Columbia, when she went on the lookout for a ladies’s soccer jersey through the 2015 Women’s World Cup. Nortman discovered some, finally, with out gamers’ names on the backs.

“I just didn’t understand why it was so hard,” Nortman mentioned. “I was trying to get people to take my money. Why could nobody take it?”

A Southern California native from a sports-driven household, Nortman, a enterprise capitalist, quickly turned dedicated to ladies’s soccer, following the highest division within the United States, the National Women’s Soccer League, and speaking concerning the sport with anybody who would pay attention — together with the actress Natalie Portman, whom she met at a fund-raiser. Both quickly turned energetic supporters of the U.S. ladies’s group’s combat for equal pay, and after final summer time’s Women’s World Cup, they determined it was time to contain themselves extra personally within the sport.

“Natalie texted me three times, just one line: ‘Let’s bring a team to L.A.,’” Nortman mentioned.

On Tuesday, their dream turned a actuality when the N.W.S.L. introduced that it might develop to Los Angeles in 2022, with a group bankrolled by an possession group that features not solely Nortman and Portman, but additionally the tennis star Serena Williams and her husband, the tech entrepreneur Alexis Ohanian; the media guide Julie Uhrman; and greater than a dozen former members of the U.S. ladies’s group.

The Los Angeles group, which mentioned it might launch its title and stadium plans earlier than the tip of the 12 months, would be the solely group within the N.W.S.L. to be owned virtually totally by ladies. The possession group of 33 folks additionally contains a number of ladies of shade, together with the actresses Uzo Aduba, Eva Longoria and America Ferrera, and the talk-show host Lilly Singh.

Perhaps befitting such a various possession group — which additionally contains the World Cup winners Mia Hamm, Julie Foudy and Abby Wambach — the group got here into being in a nontraditional method. The homeowners selected a mission earlier than approaching the league, then consulted members of the U.S. ladies’s nationwide group and their gamers affiliation to higher perceive the wants of girls’s professionals. The mission was clear from the beginning, mentioned Uhrman, the membership’s president: “Champions on and off the field.”

Part of that motto, she mentioned, can be embracing the combat for pay fairness for girls by bolstering media protection of the league, securing new sponsorships and, in the end, creating stronger income streams via elevated viewership.

“It’s our goal to have women’s professional soccer players make a living only playing women’s professional soccer,” Uhrman mentioned.

Becca Roux, the manager director of the United States Women’s National Team Players Association, mentioned the mixture of feminine buyers, former ladies’s professionals and folks of shade on the brand new group’s board of administrators had the potential to be game-changing steps for not solely the N.W.S.L., however for different main leagues. Williams and Ohanian’s 2-year-old daughter, Olympia, can also be listed as an investor.

“We’ve seen other athletes — mostly men — join ownership of sports teams in recent years, but not so much women because they often didn’t make enough money in their careers to buy into a sports franchise,” Roux mentioned.

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