The Spirit’s new investors are the latest in an influx of high-profile people financially supporting women’s soccer.
By Alex Holmes
The Clinton and Bush families are not done leaving their marks on Washington, D.C. On Thursday, the Washington Spirit announced a group of new investors, featuring Chelsea Clinton and Jenna Bush Hager, daughters of former U.S. presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush. The group consists of over 30 people with successful backgrounds in politics, arts, and athletics—continuing the growing trend of investing in women’s sports.
“Our investor group reflects D.C.’s political roots, sports legacy, international reach, and thriving business and technology community. We share a common vision and committed purpose to elevate women’s soccer, both for Washington Spirit players and the young girls pursuing their passions on the pitch and beyond,” lead investor Devin Talbott said in a Washington Spirit press release.
Among the new investing group is former USWNT goalkeeper and 1999 World Cup champion, Brianna Scurry. The group also includes a former ambassador to Finland, Bonnie McElveen-Hunter, and Emmy Award winner Estee Portnoy, executive producer of last spring’s hit series “The Last Dance.”
This news comes less than a month after tennis superstar Naomi Osaka announced her decision to invest in the North Carolina Courage. The three-time Grand Slam champion was the highest paid female athlete of 2020.
Investing in women’s soccer seems to be trending. The Spirit’s announcement draws parallels to last year’s news about Angel City FC’s investor group. In July, the NWSL announced Angel City FC as an expansion franchise for the 2022 season. Angel City’s investor group is one of the most star-studded collections of financial supporters in the sports industry. Actresses Natalie Portman and Jessica Chastain, along with tennis legend Serena Williams and former USWNT players Mia Hamm, Abby Wambach, and Julie Foudy are just a handful of the team’s investors. Candace Parker and Billie Jean King also announced their investment in Los Angeles’ new team last October.
Other notable names investing in NWSL teams include James Harden and Tony Parker. Harden, an NBA All-Star and Olympic champion, joined the Houston Dash’s ownership group in 2019. Fellow NBA champion Tony Parker is a minority owner for the OL Reign.
Why are so many high-profile individuals investing lately? Most do it to give back to their local communities and build a better platform for aspiring female athletes than they once had. As Osaka said in an NC Courage press release: “it’s an investment in amazing women who are role models and leaders in their fields and inspirations to all young female athletes.”
What does it take to invest in a sport’s team? Law firm Foley & Lardner, LLP, break down the investment process.
It begins with an auction for prospective buyers. Once the buyers are selected, they must be approved by the team’s sports league. Following a background check, the investors become owners of the team. Usually a group of buyers selects one individual as the “control” person who makes all decisions on behalf of the ownership group.
Minority shareholders, like Osaka, are high-net-worth individuals who invest in the franchise. These shareholders go through the same process as an owner but typically do not have a say in the team’s decision-making process.
Investing in sport’s teams generates monetary interest for the owners and shareholders. With the increasing trend of investing in women’s sports teams around the United States, the return on that investment will include more than just money. It also means millions of girls will have more opportunities to see women playing professional sports, more role models for them to look up to, and more resources to support them as they move through the youth sports ranks.
Hopefully, these new investors will lead to even more financial support across women’s sports. As for now, it looks like this trend is continuing in the right direction.