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The Los Angeles-based franchise, tentatively named Angel City, is scheduled to begin play in spring 2022. Ohanian’s firm Initialized Capital led the investment in the expansion team.
“Today we take an exciting step by announcing the first women majority-owned and led ownership group,” Portman said in a statement. “I am thrilled by the opportunity to partner with this incredible group of people to bring a professional women’s soccer team to Los Angeles. Together, we aim to build not only a winning team on the field, but also to develop a passionately loyal fan base."
Aside from Portman and Ohanian, the star-studded investment group behind Angel City includes venture capitalize Kara Nortman, entrepreneur Julie Uhrman, tennis superstar Serena Williams and former U.S. women’s national soccer team standout Mia Hamm. Ohanian and Williams are married.
The majority-female group also includes several prominent actresses, including Jennifer Garner, Jessica Chastain, Uzo Aduba and Eva Longoria.
The team is expected to finalize its name and home stadium by the end of the year.
“I am proud to be a part of this wonderful group working to bring a women’s professional football club to Los Angeles,” Ohanian said. “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.”
Angel City will be the NWSL’s 11th franchise and its first based in California. Another expansion franchise, Racing Louisville FC, is expected to begin play in 2021.
NWSL attendance surged last year following the U.S. women’s national soccer team’s victory in the FIFA World Cup. The league was forced to suspend its 2020 season in March due to the coronavirus pandemic but resumed play in June.