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How Angel City Football Club wants to turn its mission of equality into a global brand

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Angel City Football Club President Julie Uhrman.

Angel City Football Club President Julie Uhrman. She wants to show that women's soccer “deserves the attention and the revenue the male teams just get without trying." Courtesy Angel City Football Club

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Angel City Football Club, a women’s soccer team based in Los Angeles, will be joining the National Women’s Soccer League for its 2022 season. Digital media entrepreneur Julie Uhrman is the team’s president and one of its founders. She talked with “Marketplace” host Kai Ryssdal at the Banc of California Stadium, where ACFC will play its home matches.

The announcement of the team in July made news, in part because of its origin story, which involves actress Natalie Portman and former U.S. women’s national team player Abby Wambach.

Abby Wambach (Tim Warner/Getty Images)

“Natalie was listening to Abby Wambach talk about how retirement for female athletes is so different than male athletes,” Uhrman said. “Abby was getting the Icon Award at the ESPYs at the same time as Kobe [Bryant] and Peyton Manning, and they were talking about where to spend their hundreds of millions of dollars. And Abby was trying to figure out how to make her mortgage.”

Uhrman said the pay disparity between men’s and women’s athletics stuck with Portman, who then decided to launch Angel City Football Club. Wambach, along with more than a dozen former members of the U.S. national team, joined the founding ownership group, which is mostly women.

Uhrman wants Angel City to become a global brand, similar to the New York Yankees in baseball and FC Barcelona in soccer.

“As an entrepreneur, as a media person, as a gaming executive, I know how to build communities and products, and I know how to entertain,” she said. “And that’s really what sports is.”

The men’s team Los Angeles FC also plays at Banc of California Stadium, seen here without fans in August. Uhrman said Angel City FC plans to change the stadium’s branding ahead of the team’s first game. (Harry How/Getty Images)

She sees Angel City as a platform for equality and impact, with Angel City Football Club as “the first expression of the platform.” Her goal is to launch other products underneath the brand that match the team’s story and values.

“We strive to set higher expectations on and off the pitch,” Uhrman said. “We want to elevate women’s sports, and specifically women’s soccer, and show that it is as good, if not better, than any other professional sports team here and it deserves the attention and the revenue the male teams just get without trying.”

Angel City has several corporate sponsors, including DoorDash and the footwear brand Birdies, which Uhrman said were drawn to the team because of its mission. Ten percent of the value of these deals goes to local causes. The Birdies sponsorship has led to a female mentorship program, with interns learning about women in sports.

The team has made three soccer hires so far and will soon be announcing its coach. Angel City’s first game is scheduled for April.

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