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After a three-year absence, women’s soccer is returning to Kansas City.
The National Women’s Soccer League announced on Monday that the Utah Royals are moving to Kansas City after the franchise was sold to a majority-female ownership group as part of Dell Loy Hansen’s sell-off of all of his Utah soccer holdings. All Royals players, contracts, and draft picks are being transferred to Kansas City.
The ownership group is spearheaded by Angie and Chris Long, who are both investment bankers, and includes Brittany Matthews, the former pro soccer player and fitness entrepreneur who is engaged to Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes.
“As a former collegiate and professional soccer player, I have a true level of appreciation for what these incredible women do on a daily basis. I am honored to be part of an amazing ownership group that is passionate about the game and eager to welcome a NWSL team back to Kansas City,” Matthews said. “We have the greatest fans and community here in KC and I can’t wait to huddle around this team – we want more championship parades in the very near future!”
The Longs announced that former FC Kansas City General Manager Huw Williams would be the team’s new head coach. Williams managed the FC Kansas City teams that won two straight NWSL championships in 2014 and 2015, before the franchise ceased operations.
Return to KC spurred by former owner’s racist comments
The team that will play in Kansas City in 2021 actually began its life in Kansas City almost a decade ago. FC Kansas City was one of the NWSL’s eight founding clubs in 2012. The team was sold in 2017, but the NWSL reacquired it less than a year later and shut it down, moving all the players and their contracts to the new expansion team in Salt Lake City.
Fast forward three years. Hansen, owner of the Utah Royals and Real Salt Lake, landed himself in hot water in late August when he went on talk radio and criticized his players for not playing to show their support for Black Lives Matter, threatening to decrease his investment in Real Salt Lake over the issue. He was harshly criticized by professional athletes and fans.
That was just the beginning. Just hours after Hansen made those comments, reports emerged that he had a history of making racist comments about and in front of employees. MLS and the NWSL both started investigating the claims against Hansen, who quickly took a leave of absence from all of his soccer teams and announced that he’d be selling them a few days later.
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