Carli Lloyd Sees More Pro Athletes Investing in NWSL

    • Carli Lloyd took a minority stake in Gotham FC last week.
    • The two-time gold medalist has been retired from the sport for less than a year.

Carli Lloyd played her final game with Gotham FC last year, but the two-time FIFA World Cup champion is already coming back — this time, as an owner. 

“I feel like I still had more to give and I was really excited about the direction the club was going,” the New Jersey native told Front Office Sports.

Lloyd was named the highest-paid female soccer player in the world by Go Banking Rates last March with an annual salary of $518,000, and she has an estimated net worth of $2 million. It’s not clear how much she invested in the team.

When I asked Lloyd what her role would look like as an owner, the two-time Olympic gold medalist considered it “an open book” with no set guidelines. But one thing that was certain is how she’s going to approach her new role.

“I don’t half-ass things, I never will, and I never want to be a part of anything that does,” she explained. “So I’m going to bring my hard work that I have on the field and off the field into this new role with the team.”

Lloyd, who carried a strong voice in the U.S. women’s national team’s fight for equal pay, said she hasn’t had much time to think about how she would handle pay equity as an owner but that organizations should be part of the resources that “enable the team to be at their very best.”

On Wednesday, just a week after Lloyd was announced as a minority owner, Kevin Durant and Rich Kleiman’s Thirty Five Ventures joined the group, investing an undisclosed amount.

“It’s huge,” Lloyd said. “The following that Kevin Durant and his company have is great. I’m happy they’re a part of it.”

With Lloyd and Durant as owners, Gotham FC joins a number of other NWSL clubs that recently picked up high-profile athletes in the front office. Angel City FC includes Abby Wambach, Mia Hamm, and Serena Williams as investors, and the Washington Spirit has two-time Olympic gold medalist Briana Scurry and gymnast Dominqiue Dawes on its ownership list.

“You just want to bring awareness to the league and to the teams, and you are seeing this onboarding of really amazing people wanting to invest and be a part of an NWSL team,” Lloyd said. “I don’t see this as an opportunity that would have been here even five years ago, but I’m sure we’ll be seeing this even more and more.”

In April, Lloyd became the first U.S. ambassador for Teqball, a ball sport played on a curved table that mixes soccer and table tennis, and not long before that, she co-conducted a FIFA men’s World Cup draw.

But Lloyd is especially excited to get back to a team setting.

“I will never get the feeling again of playing in a World Cup, playing in the Olympics, or playing in front of a packed stadium, so it’s sort of that adrenaline rush, that goal, and that team mindset to achieve something great,” she said.