Olivia Moultrie, 15, is suing NWSL for playing for Thorns
Olivia Moultrie, the 15-year-old American girl’s soccer phenomenon, made history when she turned pro at the age of 13. However, she hasn’t played a professional minute in the past two years, prompting her to file an antitrust lawsuit against The NWSL, The Athletic reported on Wednesday.
The lawsuit seeks an injunction so she can immediately sign a professional contract to play with the Portland Thorns first team, according to The Athletic.
“It has always been a dream of mine to play professionally in the US,” Moultrie said in a statement from her lawyers about The Athletic. “I know girls my age compete against each other all over the world and I just want to be on the field and officially.”
Teenage soccer star sued for playing NWSL
The lawsuit, filed Tuesday in the U.S. District Court in Portland, alleges that the NWSL’s requirement that players be 18 to sign a contract and play on the top-level team is against the Sherman Antitrust Act violates, reported Paul Tenorio for The Athletic. Federal law, passed in 1890, was the first to prohibit groups of companies from working together or forming a monopoly and prescribing pricing.
Moultrie, who signed a marketing deal with Nike when he was 13, is currently training with the Portland Thorns. She has played in scrimmages but is not allowed to play in official games at the highest level. She can only play for the youth teams at the moment.
The final of the NWSL Challenge Cup will take place on Saturday between Westmeister Thorns and Ostmeister NJ / NY Gotham FC. The regular season 2021 starts on May 15th.
The lawsuit demands monetary damages and immediate injunction. According to The Athletic, Moultrie’s professional career has been “inflicted irreparable damage, including potentially lost salaries, depreciation of marketing opportunities and delay”. Your likelihood of being invited to join the US women’s team. and make the team or the US Olympic team. ‘”
Other parties may be named to the lawsuit in the future, including the United States Football Association. The association has been involved in a longstanding lawsuit against members of the USWNT.
Lawsuit: Male youth stars play in MLS
Moultrie, who initially accepted a scholarship to play a game in North Carolina at the age of 11, made multiple requests to sign a professional contract every time the league said no according to the lawsuit. Without the minimum age, Moultrie could have signed a contract with a team last year.
“The truth is that if Olivia Moultrie were male she would already be playing in MLS,” Max Forer, one of Moultrie’s attorneys, told The Athletic. “In addition, she is already eligible to play for the US women’s national team, but cannot officially play in the league that develops and prepares talent for the national team. That is unfair.”
The lawsuit states that players under the age of 18 are professionally committed in leagues around the world and in MLS at home. For example, Alphonso Davies made his Vancouver Whitecaps debut when he was 15, which resulted in Bayern Munich paying a $ 22 million fee to sign him when he was 17.
USWNTers Sauerbrunn, Horan sign up for support
The lawsuit includes a list of supporters for Moultrie, including Thorns and USWNT players Becky Sauerbrunn and Lindsey Horan. Sauerbrunn was appointed the new USWNT captain in January. Horan skipped college to play overseas for Paris Saint-Germain and became the first American to do so.
The lawsuit alleges that the league did not provide any evidence of when or how the age rule was enacted, according to The Athletic. It should be noted that courts in professional sport have decided against the minimum age, unless this is part of the collective agreement, which the NWSL does not have.
The league and the NWSL Players Association announced in April that they had started negotiations on their first CBA. The lawsuit stated that an age limit was not included in the initial CBA proposals, according to The Athletic.
The suit states that, according to The Athletic, NWSL is “the only talent acquirer in the (US) market” and that Moultrie cannot play abroad due to FIFA rules.
NWSL: CBA the place to go to discuss age requirements
The NWSL issued a statement that it “would vigorously defend our league against this legal battle”. via Meg Linehan from The Athletic.
“The league is in collective bargaining with the NWSL Players Association, which is the place under federal labor law to resolve issues related to terms of employment. Age requirements are a common feature of many professional leagues for men and women in the US and abroad. The rules for operating Leagues are in place to support player and team operators and ensure that the NWSL remains the world’s premier women’s football league. We will vigorously defend our league against this lawsuit because it seeks to change a long-standing rule and disrupt the collective bargaining process. ”
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