In a judgment passed on Monday, Judge Karin Immergut approved an injunction requiring the NWSL to lift their age restrictions so that Olivia Moultrie can join a team.
According to the regulation, there are no such restrictions in the US men’s professional league, the MLS or in the European women’s league.
In a tweet last week, the teenager said, “The only combination of gender and country in the world that I can’t play professional football in is a woman in the US. Just one thing to consider.” Her official Twitter feed was full of retweets in support of her efforts to join a professional team. Moultrie was and was 14 when she appeared in 2020 with the Portland Thorns, a women’s professional U-19 team the youngest player to attend training camp with the US-17 women’s national team in January, according to a Thorns Academy press release.
Following the decision, Len Simon, an attorney representing Moultrie, was delighted and told CNN in an email, “We are very pleased with the court’s decision.”
In a statement from The Oregonian, the NWSL said it was in the middle of collective bargaining with the players’ association over terms of employment that include the age rule. “We continue to believe this is the appropriate place for a ruling on this issue and are reviewing our options regarding the district court order,” the statement said
CNN has requested a comment from NWSL but has not yet received a response.
Moultrie believes not being on the team delays improvement
The restraining order was filed on May 4th in an attempt to prevent NWSL from enforcing its rule that players must be at least 18 years of age.
According to the ruling, Moultrie would like to be able to apply for a position on a professional football team “that is free of age restrictions”. The ruling found that the NWSL has age restrictions that are not present in boys’ leagues or in European leagues, and these restrictions prevent them from advancing their careers.
Moultrie is quoted as saying that the age restriction “will continually slow her development, delay her improvement and generally hinder her career as a footballer”.
“Plaintiff has demonstrated that the ten teams that make up the NWSL have agreed to introduce the NWSL’s age restriction, which excludes female competitors from the only professional football opportunity available in the US because they are under the age of 18, regardless of talent, maturity, strength and ability “, it says in the decision.
The approved injunction expires in two weeks and a provisional injunction can be set in the case according to the judgment.
The judge said her decision was in the public interest because it promoted gender equality.
“This court finds that the NWSL’s comparable men’s league in the US, MLS, has no age limit and employs players under the age of 18,” said Immergut. “More than half of the MLS teams reportedly had one or more players on their squad.” the age of 18 years. “
“In other words, the only thing currently standing between the plaintiff and her quest to be a professional soccer player in this country is her gender,” concluded Immergut. “Promoting gender equality in athletics is clearly in the public interest.”