Pacific Northwest-based Miller Nash Graham & Dunn LLP, along with Law Offices of Leonard B. Simon P.C., and Gustafson Gluek PLLC have filed an antitrust lawsuit against the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) on behalf of Olivia Moultrie, a 15-year-old soccer prodigy. The lawsuit arises from NWSL’s refusal to allow Moultrie to play in the league due to the league’s “Age Rule” that requires a player to be at least 18-years-old to play in the NWSL. No such rule exists in the men's professional soccer league, Major League Soccer (MLS).
Miller Nash is joined in the suit by attorney and University of San Diego sports law professor, Len Simon of Law Offices of Leonard B. Simon P.C. “The league’s Age Rule clearly violates the Sherman Act,” notes Simon. “We believe they are legally obligated to provide her with an opportunity to play and it’s wildly inconsistent that she’s allowed to practice with the professionals and scrimmage with the professionals but can’t sign a player contract or participate in an official game.”
Moultrie commented, “It’s always been a dream of mine to play professionally in the U.S. I know girls my age are competing around the world and I just want to get on the field and officially compete.” Moultrie is represented by agent Spencer Wadsworth of Wasserman.
“The truth is that if Olivia Moultrie was male, she’d already be playing in MLS,” says Miller Nash sports law attorney Max Forer. “Further, she’s already eligible to play for the U.S. Women’s National Team but can’t officially play in the league that develops and prepares talent for the National Team, that’s unfair.”
Included in the filings are a notable list of supporters (or declarants) of Moultrie’s right to play:
- Becky Sauerbrunn, Captain of the U.S. Women’s National Team and member of the Portland Thorns (NWSL);
- Leigh Ann Brown, University of San Diego assistant soccer coach and former professional soccer player with FC Kansas City (NWSL); and
- Lindsey Horan, Member of the U.S. Women’s National Team and Portland Thorns (NWSL) and 2018 NWSL MVP.