Tech mogul to bridge women’s soccer in first-of-its-kind organization

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Michele Kang is creating a bridge for women’s soccer like never before. On Tuesday, Kang and French ownership network OL Groupe announced that they are combining forces to create a women’s soccer organization that she will helm. The group, which is the first of its kind to be owned by a woman and be comprised of women’s teams, will include NWSL team Washington Spirit, which she bought last year for $35 million, and the women’s team of French club Olympique Lyonnais.

‘This deal represents a major step forward in the history of women’s professional football,” Kang said in a statement. “It brings together the unparalleled tradition of the eight-time Champions League winning OL Féminin and the dynamism of the 2021 NWSL Champion Spirit to usher our sport into a new era. The complete alignment and support for this vision among the OL Groupe board and key principals including Jean-Michel Aulas, John Textor and myself is very powerful. It is a great honor to take stewardship of OL Féminin and lead this unprecedented effort on behalf of the fans, players and staff of both teams.” 

Olympique Lyonnais, also known as Lyon, is owned by OL Groupe as part of a network that also includes a men’s team and the NWSL team OL Reign, which they are selling.

In the new organization, Kang will be the majority owner of the Lyon women’s team with a 52 percent stake. She attended the club’s French Cup final on Saturday and hoisted the trophy after they won its 10th title. In February, she became a part owner of Eagle Football Holdings, which is the majority shareholder of OL Groupe and has ownership stakes in several other soccer clubs.

The deal is still pending approval from the NWSL and entities in France, but is projected to be finalized in June, a month before the women’s World Cup kicks off.

The yet-to-be-named network is seeking to add additional teams. The organization would follow the model of Red Bull — which owns multiple teams across the world, including the MLS’ New York Red Bulls — and City Football Group, which owns a dozen clubs internationally, including the Premier League’s Manchester City and MLS’ New York City FC.

Kang shared more about her hopes for the network with The Washington Post: ‘This is about bringing women’s soccer to that level so that young girls growing up all around the world can see it and be inspired and say, ‘I’m going to go into professional soccer.”

This post appeared first on USA TODAY