LeBron James owns a piece of another Premier League team, Liverpool Football Club, but slews of other American A-listers are investing closer to home. Matthew McConaughey jumped at the chance to buy into Austin F.C., one of Major League Soccer’s newest franchises. He’s even the club’s self-appointed “minister of culture”—a position whose responsibilities include, in McConaughey’s own words, “hanging on to the DNA of who we are and why we love Austin.” He can be seen banging a drum on the sidelines of home games.
Natalie Portman, Jennifer Garner, Kevin Durant, Serena Williams, Will Ferrell, James Harden, Jessica Chastain, Ciara, Russell Wilson, Naomi Osaka, Magic Johnson, Drew Carey, Mia Hamm, Oscar de la Hoya, Marshawn Lynch, Diplo, Christina Aguilera, Alex Ovechkin, Kate Upton, Eva Longoria, Tony Robbins, and a slew of others have joined McConaughey in turning “the beautiful game” into the sexiest celebrity investment.
Unsurprisingly, soccer and celebrity collide nowhere like they do in Los Angeles. Will Ferrell—a die-hard soccer guy married to a former collegiate player—co-owns MLS’s Los Angeles F.C. with Magic Johnson, Mia Hamm and husband Nomar Garciaparra, Tony Robbins, a co-founder of YouTube, and a bunch of others who’ve made a brick of cash. Ferrell keeps a low profile at home games, letting his wardrobe do the talking. He often sports a pair of lucky gold pants or a T-shirt featuring the club’s head of security—a fan favorite at Banc of California stadium.
For many celebrities, soccer presents a unique opportunity to invest in strong women—like the ones we’ve seen transcend the world of sports and emerge as bona fide stars and role models. This is America. We like to be number one. And if our men’s national team has yet to dominate on the global stage, our women have demonstrated dynastic greatness since the inaugural women’s World Cup in 1991.
Natalie Portman helped establish the National Women’s Soccer League team Angel City F.C. after hearing that Abby Wambach—a generational talent, two-time gold medalist, and World Cup champion—needed a job. Unlike Peyton Manning or Kobe Bryant, her fellow 2016 ESPYs Icon Award recipients, Wambach didn’t retire with a bunch of zeros in her bank account. Portman reached out to the venture capitalist Kara Nortman in hopes of joining forces to bring professional women’s soccer to Los Angeles. Hollywood’s newest and rhymiest power couple, Portman and Nortman recruited the likes of Serena Williams, Jessica Chastain, Christina Aguilera, America Ferrera, Gabrielle Union, Jennifer Garner, Rachel Zoe, Jay Shetty, and Alexis Ohanian. Angel City F.C. will play its first ever home game at Banc of California Stadium on April 29. Wambach also joined the group as she continues to push for higher salaries, better working conditions, and 401(k) plans to enable these athletes to retire comfortably the way their male counterparts do. Fittingly, the sporting world’s greatest gender-equity pioneer, Billie Jean King, sits alongside Wambach in the Angel F.C. owners’ box.
Even those actually bidding for Chelsea F.C. are clueless as to when the next owner will be named. An update this week? A formal announcement next? Any day now, I hope to know whether or not I join the lucky few as part owner of a pro soccer team. Or if we’re being honest, whether or not I join the close friends of those listed above who never reached a hand into their pockets but get to tag along for the ride. Whoever’s allowed to fork over a sum expected to exceed the GDP of Liberia to buy a soccer team, I’ll celebrate or mourn accordingly. By this time next week, my dream might have come true. Or I might be wandering the streets aimlessly and sobbing in the rain. While some billionaire has my umbrella.
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