Women’s soccer is coming back to Los Angeles, in part thanks to Natalie Portman, who leads an ownership group that was just awarded rights to a new expansion team in the city by the National Women’s Soccer League.
While the new team doesn’t have a formal name or venue yet, the team has been coined “Angel City” and is aiming for a return to play in the 2022 season, making it California’s first women’s soccer club in a decade.
Portman is part of an ownership group that includes Upfront Ventures partner Kara Nortman, media and gaming entrepreneur Julie Uhrman and tech entrepreneur Alexis Ohanian. While they’re the primary owners, Serena Williams is also a part owner, as are 14 former members of the US Women’s National Team and actors Uzo Aduba, America Ferrera, Jennifer Garner and Eva Longoria. Julie Uhrman is CEO of the new club.
In speaking with The Athletic on Tuesday, Portman said she got involved with bringing a team to Los Angeles after working with the USWNT on an equal pay initiative, only for that effort to grow well beyond what she had anticipated to being a full time owner.
“Whatever I do, I’m all in. I’m committed to developing this organization in a way that delivers on our promise to ignite higher expectations on and off the field,” Portman said. “It makes me think about the dedication, commitment and passion you need to support something when it doesn’t even exist yet. These people are out there every day, waving a flag, holding rallies and willing something into existence. Having the idea to bring a team to LA and knowing we would have a passionate fan base day one, the @NWSL_LA supporters pushed us even harder every day to make this happen.”
Portman is also partnering with LA84 Foundation, an organization that treats play equity in sports as a social justice issue.
“We are building something bigger than a game; a platform where mission and capital coexist. We want to build a fanbase that not only shows up for our team on the field, but also something for our larger community to show up for. Together we can leverage our platform, players and even our organization to show up and get young girls and boys more access to sports,” Portman said. “We aim to be champions on the field, and champions for equity off the field.”