A few days later, he and his wife, the legendary tennis player Serena Williams, were watching the tournament final on television. Their young daughter, Olympia, ran around wearing a jersey from Alex Morgan, one of the team’s star players.
Loudly, Ohanian wondered if Olympia could one day play the game professionally, but Serena cut him off.
“Don’t miss the beat, my wife wasn’t until she paid her something of value, and she was half joking, but it wasn’t. did.”
At that moment, Ohanian said he felt forced to make a positive contribution to the world of women’s sports, proclaiming “Orai Baby” and “The challenge was accepted!”
Twelve months later, “Angel City” became a reality. Ohanian is a major investor in a new Los Angeles football project led by Hollywood actress and activist Natalie Portman.
The National Women’s Soccer League was formed in 2013 with five teams, after which four teams have been added. The league will record double-digit numbers in 2021 with the participation of Racing Louisville FC. Next season, Angel City will have 11 teams in the league.
According to Angel City President Julie Ahman, the idea for this new team came about when Portman was involved in Time’s Up, a movement established in 2018 to combat sexual harassment.
“I find that she really puts off important causes for her and does a meaningful job for those causes,” Uhrman told CNN Sport, “she improves women’s athletics. Let them work on equal pay for equal work and make it publicly meaningful. ”
Portman, who drives the launch of Angel City in July, talked about the challenges that have traditionally hindered women’s sports. She was talking on Instagram with someone (Williams) who had experienced it directly for the last 20 years.
“Our team told me that only 4% of sports coverage is women’s sports. It’s insane and very imbalanced that we’re here in 2020,” Portman said. Said.
Swim against the tide
It’s a team that doesn’t have a formal name yet (Angel City is just a nickname) and won’t play until 2022. But it’s already clear that the people behind the club are doing something else.
For one thing, the founder’s investors are mostly women. “I think the number of clubs owned primarily by women can probably be counted with just a few fingers,” Ahman told CNN. Not normal. ”
There are 31 founding investors listed on the club’s website, and only 4 men. Alexis Ohanian is one of those weird people.
“This is what we want to make, and this is the way we want to make it,” he said of an early meeting with Uhrman, Portman, and venture capitalist Kara Nortman. I did. From day one they have a team owned by a majority of women.
“I think we can talk about many gaps in professional sports, and one of the ways we make real changes is a great business where this produces a lot of money and a lot of attention and a lot of attention. I don’t think it’s just about proving that it was successful, but every bit of how this organization operates is different, and as a result it can be the same, even if it’s less successful. is showing.
“It’s not because it feels good, not because it feels good, but because it’s ridiculous that it’s less normal.”
The club knows that they are trying to swim against the tide, not just because they want to change the perception of sports for professional women. They are also launching clubs in the already saturated Los Angeles sports market.
Ulman rattles a club that will soon be on the same side in a crowded and famous city. “Los Angeles is a market that already has nine professional sports teams. [collegiate] Powers such as the University of Southern California and the University of California, Los Angeles.
So even the idea of bringing another professional sports team here, a third football club here, is an ambitious and big idea. ”
However, Angel City believes that their innovative approach will help them survive the turmoil and establish a global appeal for locals, communities and clubs. “We know that women’s football has been incredibly successful during the Olympics and World Cup,” says Uhrman.
“The question is why they get such attention every four years, and I think the answer is due to exposure and consciousness.”
Behind the major investors are support casts of Hollywood stars such as Jennifer Garner, Eva Longoria and Jessica Chastain, as well as 14 former players from Serena Williams and the US Women’s National Team. A group of women with tens of millions of followers on social media. They shout it from the roof using a collective platform.
“If you can’t see it, you have this general problem that you can’t do it. If you can’t see it, you can’t follow it. [If] You can’t cheer for it, and you can’t make your friends part of it. Therefore, there are systematic issues that we must fix and change. ”
Uhrman goes on to say, “There is a group of people from entertainment space, media space, sports and technology space. We think football is bigger than sports. In fact, we think of it as entertainment. I am. ”
According to Ohanian, the focus is on social media storytelling to build the brand and it seems to be already working. “Ten tens of thousands of people are very excited. [we’ve] The products of the team that does not exist yet are sold out. ”
He compared women’s football to e-sports, which was flooded with investment five years ago, and concluded that the market significantly underestimated women’s football.
“These are gamer clubs and young men who have attracted hundreds of millions of fans around the world. [But] The average American doesn’t know who is the best player in League of Legends, but Megan Rapinoe and Alex Morgan are already cultural icons.
“From a marketing perspective, esports is comfortable and far more marketable for brands that want to work with consumer spending in this country.”
In a conversation with Williams on Instagram, Portman said Angel City changed the conversation, “people are beginning to think about ways to do this in other sports as well.”
Women are standing up and promoting for other women. The sisters are doing it for themselves. This is an LA story that could end in Hollywood and could be a women’s sports game changer everywhere.