Olivia Moultrie signs deal with Thorns after legal battle to join NWSL

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Olivia Moultrie has finally signed with the Portland Thorns.

The 15-year-old star signed a three year contract with a fourth-year option with the club, the Thorns announced on Wednesday afternoon, finally ending Moultrie’s long quest to join the National Women’s Soccer League.

“This step is very important for Olivia,” coach Mark Parsons said in a statement. “For this club to have the commitment and vision to sign a young, talented player that we really believe in is immense. Olivia has continued to grow and push forward throughout her time here and has taken every challenge and turned it into an opportunity.”

Moultrie filed lawsuit to sign in NWSL

Olivia Moultrie signed a three-year deal with the Portand Thorns on Wednesday. (Craig Mitchelldyer/ISI Photos/Getty Images)
Olivia Moultrie signed a three-year deal with the Portand Thorns on Wednesday. (Craig Mitchelldyer/ISI Photos/Getty Images)

Moultrie turned professional at just 13 and signed a marketing deal with Nike, but she hasn’t been able to play a minute of professional soccer since due to the NWSL’s rule that players have to be 18 to sign a contract and play on a top-level team.

So, earlier this year, Moultrie filed an antitrust lawsuit against the league. Her argument, in part, was that players under the age of 18 are allowed to sign professional contracts in other soccer leagues both around the world and in MLS.

A judge temporarily halted the NWSL’s age requirement rule, which paved the way for Moultrie to finally sign with the team. The NWSL later appealed a judge’s decision to grant Moultrie a preliminary injunction.

She was then claimed by the OL Reign, but the Thorns acquired her in exchange for a third-round pick in the 2022 draft. The Portland-area native started playing with the Thorns during the 2019 season but was forced to compete with their younger clubs.

The league, though still fighting the case, issued a statement welcoming Moultrie to the league.

"After the development of a comprehensive minor player protection plan and execution of a SPA, special addendum, and parent guaranty, the NWSL welcomed Olivia Moultrie into the league today," an NWSL spokesperson said in a statement, via The Athletic. "The NWSL continues to believe that age requirements for the league should be collectively bargained (as they are in other leagues) and those negotiations are ongoing."

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