Northwest

Teen soccer prodigy Olivia Moultrie sues NWSL for right to play  

Northwest

Growing up, it’s every young athlete’s dream to one day make it to the pros.

But teen soccer star Olivia Moultrie has been forced to put her dreams of playing in the National Women’s Soccer League on pause due to the league’s Sherman Antitrust Act, which states that all players must be at least 18 years of age.

Now, the 15-year-old soccer phenom is taking legal action and suing the league for the right to compete.

According to Maxine Bernstein of The Oregonian, Moultrie’s lawyers are challenging the notion and arguing that the NWSL’s requirement “violates antitrust law, harms her development as a soccer player and delays the likelihood of her being invited to play on the U.S. Women’s National Team or an Olympic team.”

“Ms. Moultrie does not seek an order from this Court awarding her a contract or a roster slot,” her lawyers wrote in a lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Portland on Tuesday. “Rather, she seeks removal of an unlawful barrier to her participation.”

 

Moultrie first signed a scholarship offer to play at UNC at just 11 years old, followed by a six-figure marketing deal with Nike at 13 years old. The 15-year-old soccer prospect has been practicing with the NWSL’s Portland Thorns and has taken part in unofficial scrimmages and preseason games, but she is only eligible to compete in official games as part of the team’s development academy.  

Per The Athletic, Moultrie’s suit has a list of supporters including Portland Thorns and U.S. women's national team players Becky Sauerbrunn and Lindsey Horan.

In Moultrie’s suit, which asks for preliminary injunctive relief, she would be eligible to sign a professional contract and play for the team immediately. She hopes to join the NWSL when the league's regular season begins on May 15.

"It's always been a dream of mine to play professionally in the U.S.," Moultrie said in a statement via her lawyers. "I know girls my age are competing around the world and I just want to get on the field and officially compete.”