The National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) announced that a majority woman-founded group led by Academy Award-winning actress and activist Natalie Portman, technology venture capitalist Kara Nortman, media and gaming entrepreneur Julie Uhrman, and Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian have secured the right to bring a professional women’s soccer team to Los Angeles to kick off in Spring 2022.
While the team’s official name and venue partner will be announced before the end of the year, the group has formally coined itself “Angel City” in honour of its planned home in Los Angeles.
The full extensive list of the founding investor group includes; Serena Williams and daughter, Alexis Olympia Ohanian, Jr., actors Uzo Aduba, Jessica Chastain, America Ferrera, Jennifer Garner, and Eva Longoria, late night talk show host Lilly Singh, 14 former US Women’s National Team players, author and activist Glennon Doyle, Netflix VP Original Content Cindy Holland, tech entrepreneur and filmmaker Casey Neistat, Founding Board Member of Baby2Baby, Sabina Nathanson, Media Executive David Nathanson, Baby2Baby Co-President Norah Weinstein, and Bad Robot President and COO Brian Weinstein.
In response to fan-driven demand for an NWSL team in the region and inspiration from the USWNT 2019 performance on-and off-the-field, the founders undertook the endeavour to secure the rights to the group
Kara Nortman became fascinated with women’s football back in 2015 and soon began following the National Women’s Soccer League (NSWL), the top division in the United States. She would take about the game with anyone that would listen and this even included actress Natalie Portman, who she met at a fund-raiser.
The pair bonded over football and started bringing their networks to football games and gathering momentum and support for the women’s league and the sport broadly.
Those conversations and trips to watch the games led to talk of bringing an expansion team to Los Angeles. Not long both became avid supporters of the U.S. women’s team’s fight for equal pay, they decided it was time to involve themselves into the game.
“Natalie texted me three times, just one line: ‘Let’s bring a team to L.A.,’” Nortman said.
That dream has become a reality now as the NWSL announced it would expand to Los Angeles in 2022. The new team will be bankrolled by the female dominated ownership group who are keen to embrace the fight for pay equity for women by bolstering media coverage of the league, securing new sponsorships and, ultimately, creating stronger revenue streams through increased viewership.
Serena Williams took to Instagram to acknowledge that her two-year-old daughter, Alexis Olympia Ohanian Jr., would be part owner in the club.
Additionally, her husband Alexis Ohanian, described his passion for changing the landscape of women’s sport.
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Disparities between men and women occur in all facets of entertainment, including sports media. The global sports fanbase is 50/50 men and women, yet female athletes receive just 4% of sports media coverage. And yet… US viewership of the 2019 Women’s World Cup final was 22% higher than the 2018 men’s final! After the unstoppable legacy of @USWNT, I was hungry to see and do more. ⚽️ That's why I'm proud to help bring @weareangelcity to the City of Angels. This team is rewriting the playbook, and you can be a part of it. Welcome to the beginning. This is the kind of ambitious lead investing @Initialized is all about and we're excited to announce this one-of-a-kind lifestyle, apparel, and sports organization. I am proud to be a part of this wonderful group (majority women!) working to bring a women’s professional football club to Los Angeles. Chiefly, because I’m a fan of the game, but also because I believe there is massive potential for the sport and it's been undervalued by too many people for far too long. As someone who spends hours kicking around a football with my two-year-old daughter, I want her to have a front row seat to this revolution. I’m personally investing on behalf of my family because creating more opportunities in women’s sports is important to my wife @serenawilliams and me, and we want to be a part of making a better future for our daughter @olympiaohanian #WeAreAngelCity
Los Angeles had long been seen as a landing spot for the NWSL, which is now in its eighth year of competition and does not have a team based in California. The Los Angeles team will be the NWSL’s 11th team, following Racing Louisville’s debut in 2021.