Carli Lloyd, a soccer legend, made a pledge on Oct. 26.
She addressed the 18,115 people in attendance at Allianz Field in Saint Paul, Minnesota, where she played one last game for the United States women’s national team, that even though she was retiring, she would not leave the beautiful game.
“You won’t see me on the field, but you can bet I’ll be around helping this game flourish,” she stated before dumping her microphone on the pitch to hundreds of applause.
Six months later, the world is witnessing what it takes to uphold a commitment.
Only six months after retiring from the game, the former Gotham FC star was named as the New Jersey-based franchise’s newest minority owner on Wednesday. The announcement comes as the franchise’s business side continues to expand at a rapid pace. Lloyd will also become part of a growing ownership group that includes New Jersey’s first couple, Governor Phil Murphy, and his wife, Tammy.
“Gotham FC has always been near to my heart as my home club,” Lloyd stated in a statement. “It’s a privilege to begin this new chapter of my soccer career in the company of people who are dedicated to making this the best club and league in the world.”
Carli Lloyd will serve as a consultant and adviser to Gotham in this role, according to the team, in order to help the club raise its visibility in local, national, and international markets. She will also collaborate with other owners and club leadership on marketing and player support initiatives.
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The business side of Gotham has been on the rise.
Andrea Pagnanelli, a seasoned sports executive, was named the club’s chief commercial officer in January. Two months later, the team added Kristin Bernert and Karen Bryant as minority owners, completing a female-dominated front office. Ed Nalbandian and Steven Temares are among the other owners.
“We always envisioned Carli remaining a part of Gotham FC after she retired last season, and we are pleased to make that vision a reality,” said Tammy Murphy, the club’s chair. “As we continue to push this club ahead, her unique viewpoint as a former player and world champion will be a fantastic benefit.”
Lloyd’s addition to Gotham’s ownership group is part of a growing trend in which retired athletes are taking high-profile administrative positions in professional sports to help expand the games they formerly played.
Carli Lloyd joins Yael Averbuch West, a former teammate and current general manager of Gotham, in the front office. Averbuch West is a native of Montclair, New Jersey, and was the team’s first-ever draft pick. Both consider the franchise to be their home team.
Lloyd is a Delran native who has made a name for himself in New Jersey soccer.
She joined Gotham FC in 2018, when it was still known as Sky Blue FC, and stayed with the squad for three seasons before retiring last year. She appeared in over 100 regular-season games for the National Women’s Soccer League and 316 games for the United States Women’s National Team.
She has won two World Cups, and two Olympic gold medals, and has been named FIFA Player of the Year twice. She formally finished her career with Gotham FC in November of last year, when the team lost a 1-0 quarterfinal match to the Chicago Red Stars in the NWSL postseason.
Lloyd has gained a growing figure in soccer media after her retirement. She revealed in April that she would make her Fox Sports analyst debut during a USWNT friendly vs Uzbekistan. She had been one of many high-profile athletes on stage during the Men’s World Cup draw on April 1 just days prior.
Lloyd is returning to the NWSL in what is shaping up to be a historic season for the league, which has seen a surge in viewership and investment as women’s soccer grows in popularity across the world.
The league will be in its tenth season in 2022, and it will be the third professional women’s soccer league in the United States. Women’s Professional Soccer and the Women’s United Soccer Association, the two prior leagues, never made it through season three.
The NWSL had a turbulent year last year, with many controversies erupting as players began to share their stories of abusive coaches and systemic concerns within a league that failed to protect them. The league and its players struck their first-ever collective bargaining deal just before the start of the preseason, which included, among other things, a 160 percent boost in basic salary for the union.
After settling their equal-pay case with their employer, the US Soccer Federation, for $24 million, players of the USWNT celebrated a similar milestone a few weeks later. Lloyd called the settlement a “historical moment” in an interview with “Outside the Lines.”
The NWSL is in the semifinals of its annual preseason Challenge Cup event, which runs until May 7. Gotham FC will next begin their regular season on the road against Orlando Pride on Sunday, May 1.