- NWSL awards fifth expansion franchise to Los Angeles
- Angel City will become women’s soccer league’s 11th team
- Ownership group comprises celebrities, entrepreneurs and former USWNT players
The National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) has awarded its fifth expansion franchise to the city of Los Angeles.
The majority female-owned team, which will temporarily be known as Angel City until their official name and venue partner are announced, will join the NWSL in 2022, becoming the top-flight US soccer league’s 11th franchise.
The team’s star-studded ownership group is headed up by tech entrepreneur and venture capitalist Alexis Ohanian, the co-founder of social news website Reddit, who led the investment through his firm Initialized Capital.
Other lead investors are actress and activist Natalie Portman, technology venture capitalist Kara Nortman and media and gaming entrepreneur Julie Uhrman.
A number of celebrities are among the franchise’s founding investors, including tennis icon Serena Williams, who is married to Ohanian, and daughter Alexis, actors Uzo Aduba, Jessica Chastain, America Ferrera, Jennifer Garner and Eva Longoria, as well as late night talk show host Lilly Singh.
A large group of former United States Women’s national team (USWNT) players are also involved, including Mia Hamm, Abby Wambach and Julie Foudy, among others.
“I am proud to be a part of this wonderful group working to bring a women’s professional football club to Los Angeles,” said Ohanian. “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 and me, and we want to be a part of making a better future for our daughter.”
The announcement comes nine months after the NWSL unveiled an expansion franchise in Louisville, who will join the competition next year. It was previously reported that the NWSL could have as many as three new teams for the 2021 season, although that target may have been revised since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic.
“The growth trajectory of the NWSL is incredibly exciting, but we also need to be strategic and thoughtful about how fast we expand and the communities we partner with,” added NWSL commissioner Lisa Baird (pictured). “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. Those factors, along with an incredible ownership group make this an ideal situation and we couldn’t be more thrilled to move forward.”