A California girl who sued to be allowed to play professional football took her first steps with her new team over the weekend – though child labor laws reportedly prevented her from playing the entire game.
Olivia Moultrie, 15, scored an assist, scoring the only goal in the Portland Thorns’ 1-0 win on Saturday night over the Washington Spirit.
“What we’re very, very committed to is developing Olivia,” he told the Oregonian. “We think coming in and finishing games is one thing, but we’re a very dominant team and we have to see them in the first half.”
The 5-foot-7 midfielder signed a three-year contract with the Thorns on June 30. Earlier this month, a federal judge said the National Women’s Soccer League could not enforce a rule requiring players to be 18 before signing with a club.
On July 3, she played her first game in the NWSL, substituting in the 84th minute in a victory against Racing Louisville.
Moultrie moved with her family from Santa Clarita to Oregon in 2019 and began training with Thorns FC, but until last month she had only played in preseason games and scrimmages. . With the intention of going pro, she had given up a full scholarship – offered at the age of 11 – to play for the University of North Carolina when she reached college age.
She has also been a member of the United States Youth National Team since 2018 and, while living in Southern California, had played for the elite Beach FC club.
The antitrust lawsuit, filed in May, argued that because the NWSL is the “only talent scorer in the market,” its age limit was a violation of the Sherman Antitrust Act.
On June 17, US District Court Judge Karin J. Immergut granted a preliminary injunction in favor of Moultrie, whose father argued that the NWSL’s age rule violated federal antitrust law.
Immergut’s order stated that the men’s league, Major League Soccer, had no minimum age and that “more than half of MLS teams would have had one or more players” under the age of 18.
The Women’s League dropped its appeal after the two sides reached a deal this month.
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