Carli Lloyd sees more professional athletes investing in the NWSL

Carli Lloyd played her last game for Gotham FC last year, but the two-time FIFA World Cup champion is already returning, this time as owner.

“I feel like I have even 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 world’s highest-paid female soccer player by Go Banking Rates last March with an annual salary of $518,000, and she has an estimated net worth of $2 million. It is unclear how much she has invested in the team.

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

“I don’t do things by halves, I never will, and I never want to be part of anything that does,” she explained. “So I will bring my hard work that I have on and off the pitch into this new role with the team.”

Lloyd, who has been a strong voice in the United States Women’s National Team’s fight for equal pay, said she hasn’t had much time to think about how she will handle the pay equity as the owner, but that organizations should be part of the resources that “enable the team to be at its 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 of Kevin Durant and his company is great. I’m glad they’re a part of it.”

With Lloyd and Durant as owners, Gotham FC joins a number of other NWSL clubs that have recently brought top athletes to 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 the teams, and you see this onboarding of really amazing people who want to invest and be part of an NWSL team,” Lloyd said. “I don’t see this as an opportunity that would have been there even five years ago, but I’m sure we’ll see this 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 shortly before that she co-led a sweepstakes of the FIFA Men’s World Cup.

But Lloyd is particularly excited about returning as a team.

“I’ll never feel like I’m playing in a World Cup again, or playing in the Olympics or playing in front of a crowded stadium, so it’s kind of an adrenaline rush, that goal and that state of team spirit to achieve something big,” she said.

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