A group of powerful women are addressing inequity in sports — by buying their own women’s soccer team
Inequity in U.S. sports — and especially in soccer — has been making a lot of headlines lately. The U.S. Women’s National Team, fresh off a win in the most recent Women’s World Cup, has been mired in a lawsuit alleging that they get paid far less than the much-less-successful men’s team. They’ve already had some setbacks, but have been clear that they’re not giving up — not until women players are paid the same as male players.
And now, one group of extremely powerful women is working together on a solution. There’s a new women’s professional soccer team in L.A., being called “Angel City” until it gets an official name, and it’s owned by a “wolfpack” of incredible, badass women.
The group that owns the new team is led by Julie Uhrman and Natalie Portman, alongside venture capitalists Kara Nortman and Alexis Ohanian (who you might recognize as Serena Williams’ husband). Serena is another part-owner, as is her two-year-old daughter Olympia, which makes her the youngest owner in pro soccer, and pro sports overall. Other part-owners include Lily Singh, Jennifer Garner, Uzo Aduba, Jessica Chastain, America Ferrera, and Eva Longoria.
What makes this team incredibly special, though, is that a staggering 14 former USWNT soccer players are also owners: Julie Foudy, Mia Hamm, Rachel Buehler, Shannon Boxx, Amanda Cromwell, Lorrie Fair Allen, Ronnie Fair Sullins, Joy Fawcett, Angela Hucles, Shannon MacMillan, Tisha Venturini Hoch, and Saskia Webber, Lauren Cheney Holiday, and Abby Wambach.
In an Instagram post, Wambach, a two-time Olympic gold medalist and World Cup winner, told the story about how this came to be. She was giving a speech about how, when she retired from professional soccer, she had to essentially start her professional life over. Natalie Portman, who was in the audience, asked her a question.
“Why don’t we start our own team and do it differently — with the respect and equality and celebration these women deserve?” she wrote. “The answer: Money.”
Wambach continued, “The way a team is traditionally bought is that one or two ridiculously rich men buy it. So Natalie reimagined this Old Boys Club system. She wondered: What if — instead of ONE rich man buying the team — a PACK OF WOMEN band together to start one? THEN NATALIE GATHERED HER WOLFPACK.”
She certainly did. This group of women is seriously powerful. But what’s more is that they’ve already announced a partnership with the LA84 Foundation to support their Play Equity Fund. According to a press release, “the Play Equity Fund is committed to driving access to sports for underserved communities, including communities of color, girls, the physically challenged and developmentally disabled.”
Portman may not be well known in the sports or soccer world, but she’s been outspoken about pay inequality in Hollywood for much of her career.
“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,” she said in a statement. “Sports are such a joyful way to bring people together, and this has the power to make tangible change for female athletes both in our community and in the professional sphere.”
The team’s official name and venue will be announced by the end of this year, and they’ll begin playing in the 2022 women’s soccer season.