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Natalie Portman leads star-studded group bringing NWSL franchise to Los Angeles in 2022 – USA TODAY

, USA TODAY
Published 11:24 a.m. ET July 21, 2020 | Updated 12:20 p.m. ET July 21, 2020

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The NWSL announced Tuesday morning that it has awarded an expansion franchise to Los Angeles to begin play in 2022.

Actress Natalie Portman, Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian, venture capitalist Kara Nortman and video game entrepreneur Julie Uhrman are leading the ownership group, which consists primarily of women.

Among other members of the ownership group are Ohanian’s wife, Serena Williams, and several former U.S. Women’s National Team players, including Mia Hamm, Julie Foudy and Abby Wambach.

Ohanian said in the release that he was inspired by kicking around a soccer ball with his 2-year-old daughter, Alexis Olympia, and that he wants to invest in women’s sports to help create a better future for her.

“I’m a fan of the game,” Ohanian said. “But also … I believe there is massive potential for the sport and it’s been undervalued by too many people for far too long.”

The club also announced it will partner with the LA84 Foundation, which aims to build more access to youth sports for underserved groups in the Los Angeles area.

“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,” commissioner Lisa Baird said in a statement.

The NWSL, which currently has nine teams, will add an expansion team in Louisville, Kentucky, in 2021 called Racing Louisville FC. When the Los Angeles team joins in 2022, it will mark the 11th team in the league.

While the Los Angeles team has nicknamed itself “Angel City,” it does not yet have an official name. According to the league, that will be announced by the end of 2020.

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