Tennis superstar Serena Williams will join forces with numerous other influential women in order to fund the creation of a new women’s football club in Los Angeles ahead of the 2022 National Women’s Soccer League.
The ownership group, aiming to expand women’s football to Southern California, consists of Williams, her two year old daughter Alexis Olympia, her husband and Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian as well as actresses and majority investors Natalie Portman, Eva Longoria, Uzo Aduba, Jennifer Garner and Jessica Chastain as well as venture capitalist Kara Nortman.
Completing the stellar lineup are fourteen former USA internationals including Mia Hamm, Julie Foudy, Joy Fawcett, Rachel Buehler, Tisha Venturini-Hoch and two time Olympic champion Abby Wambach. Gaming entrepreneur Julie Uhrman will serve as the club’s president.
The provisional name for the group is ‘Angel City,’ derived from the city they are aiming to base the club in. The team’s official name and venue has yet to be decided, although this should be confirmed by the enf
There are currently no California based clubs in the NWSL, with the group aiming to build the club from scratch and to expand the scope for women’s football in the region. They will become the 11th franchise to play in the NWSL.
Actress Portman, who got involved with the project after the USA lifted the World Cup in France last summer, told the LA Times:
“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.”
NWSL commissioner Lisa Baird also expressed her delight in a statement released today which reads:
“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.”
While six of the current NWSL have an affiliation with a men’s professional team, this new franchise, does not as of yet. This could work in their favour however, further enhancing its profile, as an independent club, a unique hub in LA dedicated solely to promoting women’s football in the region.
We have seen first hand in England, how clubs associated and funded by their male counterparts can be left behind and disregarded. Liverpool are the prime example, as while their men’s side will hoist the Premier League trophy tonight, their women’s team were relegated to the Championship and face a struggle to survive as a professional club.
Having such a prestigious group of owners can also be beneficial to the club. The illustrious list of women involved instantly draws some much needed attention to the club, from various sectors, across the globe.
The hype surrounding previous new franchises such as Inter Miami and LA FC was largely generated as result of them having famous owners in David Beckham and Will Ferrell. It is likely that this will be the case for those who are followers of those involved with ‘Angel City.’
Those who are fans of tennis, business, football and showbiz will be looking on, intrigued to see the process of the development of the club as well as the eventual results on the pitch, further boosting the profile and coverage of the NWSL as a whole, which continues to grow rapidly.
The league recorded a 22% increase in attendances last season after the USA’s fifth World Cup win, with the Portland Thorns, the best supported women’s club, averaging 20,000 at home games.
The appetite is clearly there for women’s football in America, particularly in LA, a huge cultural hub in the USA, a particularly attractive location also for a club to be based. Hamm, who already forms part of the ownership group at LA FC, was previously quoted as saying they aimed to form a women’s team.
This view was backed up by an LA FC supporters group 3252, who even flew flags with the NWSL logo stating:
‘Bring the NWSL to LA.’
Whilst this club may be a separate entity to LA FC, as the only female football club created in the area, it is easy to see how many football fans in the region will support this new club, a huge selling point for the group and women’s football as a whole.
Women’s football in America is riding on the wave of the success of the USA National team, and with three new franchises entering into the NWSL for the upcoming season, the Olympics to come next year and the Women’s World Cup in 2023, as Portman nicely summarises the new LA based club is:
“Coming in at an ideal time in 2022.”