On Wednesday, the Portland Thorns announced that they have signed 15-year-old Olivia Moultrie to a three-year contract, making her the youngest player to ever play on an NWSL team.
“This is a dream come true and I can’t wait to officially join my Thorns teammates in competition,”
Moultrie said in a press release.
“I am so thankful to the legal team that helped me get this done, they were nothing short of amazing.”
Legal Struggles of Olivia Moultrie
The young soccer player has already climbed a few formidable mountains to get where she is today. In early May, Moultrie gained national attention when she filed an antitrust lawsuit challenging the NWSL and its rule of prohibiting players under the age of 19 from signing with their teams. According to ESPN, the lawsuit argued that the league’s age rule violated the Sherman Antitrust Act and stymied Moultrie’s career development and chances of reaching the U.S. women’s national team.
In mid-June, U.S. District Judge Karin Immergut granted a preliminary injunction earlier this month, simultaneously prohibiting the NWSL from enforcing the age rule and clearing a path for Moultrie to sign with a team. According to CNN, Immergut’s order points out that the MLS, the U.S. men’s soccer league, has no age minimum and that “more than half of MLS teams allegedly had one or more players” under the age of 18 as of May.
In a statement, the NWSL said,
“After the development of a comprehensive minor player protection plan and execution of a SPA, special addendum, and parent guaranty, the NWSL welcomed Olivia Moultrie into the league today. The NWSL continues to believe that age requirements for the league should be collectively bargained [as they are in other leagues] and those negotiations are ongoing.”
Olivia Moultrie Career
Moultrie has been turning heads and gaining traction in the soccer world for years. At the tender age of 11, she was offered a soccer scholarship to the University of North Carolina, a school that has won 21 NCAA titles and been a college home to multiple US women’s national team players and World Cup champions, including legends Kristine Lilly and Mia Hamm, and current USWNT stars Tobin Heath, Crystal Dunn, and Ashlyn Harris.
After turning down UNC’s offer, Moultrie signed a nine-year, six-figure endorsement deal with Nike, at only 13 years old. She has been training with the Portland Thorns since 2019, even appearing in preseason games. According to the Thorns’ website, Moultrie played with the Thorns FC Academy U-16 team in 2018, scoring nine goals in 15 competitive matches. The following season, Moultrie played on Portland’s U-18 team, scoring eight goals in eight matches. During the 2017-18 Academy season, Moultrie played for Beach Futbol Club with the U-15s, scoring 18 goals in 27 matches.
Suffice it to say that Olivia Moultrie is a soccer powerhouse, and we have barely been able to see her perform at the highest level. At 15 years old, the Portland native has already made NWSL history as the youngest player to sign with a team. Moultrie certainly has a bright, promising, championship-filled career ahead of her, and the entire soccer world has its eyes on her, excited to see how she fares in her first season with the NWSL.
Allyson Park is a writer and media intern for Knup Sports and the Sports 2.0 Network covering a variety of topics, including football, soccer, and baseball. Connect with Allyson on Instagram @allysonpark01.
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