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Natalie Portman Spearheads NWSL Expansion To Los Angeles

Natalie Portman is one of many star-studded owners to have a stake in the newly announced NWSL team, bound for Los Angeles.

In July, the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) announced that they would be expanding into Southern California in 2022, making LA’s first women’s soccer team in over ten years. 

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Their previous team was the Los Angeles Sol, a member of the Women’s Professional Soccer League. They joined in 2009 and folded a year later. The league then shut down two years after. 

The new team will be known as Rebellion 99 in honor of the 1999 Women’s World Cup winning team. The team has an illustrious group responsible for bringing them to Los Angeles, notably led by actress Natalie Portman. 

Portman is an Oscar winner and activist, most known for her roles in Black Swan and Jackie. She is one of thirty people who own the new team. Other owners include US Soccer stars Mia Hamm and Julie Foudy (who were on that 1999 World Cup team), Abby Wambach; Tennis powerhouse Serena Williams, and her young daughter, Olympia, which technically makes her the youngest team owner in history (Sorry, Patrick Mahomes!).

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In an article by the LA Times, Portman said that the talk of bringing a team to California started after the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup, where the United States National Team won the tournament for the fourth time. 

She is quoted in the article, saying, “It just seems like it was ideal to bring [women’s] soccer to L.A. 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.”

Portman herself got interested in soccer after meeting a few of the players. She tells People’s Magazine, “[I]started going to games, and quickly became really a passionate fan of the sport.” 

She noticed, though, that the sport was not getting the exposure it deserves. In a market where women make up 40% of athletes, they only get about 4% of media exposure. One of Portman’s goals is to change that. 

Rebellion 99 is set to start playing in 2022, the year after Racing Louisville FC phases into play from its expansion.

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