On Tuesday, it was confirmed that the National Women’s Soccer League will expand into LA in 2022, meaning the 11th team in its history will join the competition.
There’s currently no California-based team in the NWSL, yet, a group of selected people have decided to invest in this new project. As the perfect example, tennis legend Serena Williams is set to help fund this new LA-based women’s football team – which has been named, just for now, ‘Angel City’ – ahead of the 2022 National Women’s Soccer League season.
Moreover, the new LA-based team ownership group includes former US women’s national team stars Mia Hamm, Julie Foudy, Joy Fawcett, Rachel Buehler, Tisha Venturini-Hoch and Abby Wambach; actors Natalie Portman, Eva Longoria, Uzo Aduba, Jennifer Garner and Jessica Chastain; venture capitalist Kara Nortman; and, as said earlier, tennis superstar Serena Williams, who is listed as an owner alongside her two-year-old daughter Alexis Olympia, and her husband, Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian.
Portman, who first became involved in the project after the US won the World Cup last year, told the LA Times:
“We wanted to make sure that we brought in incredible partners who were from the soccer world, who are leaders in sport, in tech and business and entertainment because that’s really so much what our city is about. Each of us has our special ability to bring to the team.
“It just seems like it was ideal to bring [women’s] soccer to LA because we have such passionate fans here, such robust youth soccer. It’s just an incredible kind of culture shift if we can bring more attention and light and celebration of these incredible athletes.”
Surprisingly, the NWSL set a record for attendance last season, with crowds up 22% in the wake of USA’s World Cup victory. The best supported team, the Portland Thorns, averaged more than 20,000 fans for their home games.
“Next year is the Olympics, then we will start, then the following year is the Women’s World Cup,” said Katalie Nortman. “We’re coming in at an ideal time in 2022.”
Currently, six of the NWSL’s current teams are affiliated with men’s professional teams, but the new LA team does not have an official relationship with its male counterparts yet.
But for now, the NWSL commissioner, Lisa Baird, said Southern California would be an ideal location for the new team, as it’s still a project to be made.
“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,” 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.”
In the end, it’s a great move to see celebrities from all areas, whether they are from the world of sports, actors, actresses, even entrepreneurs, offering their time and money to invest and create a new project for women’s football development and growth in LA, so it can become a reference – a legacy maybe – in the US sport, as well as across the globe. Only time will tell if it does become one.