Washington Capitals star Alex Ovechkin becomes NWSL Washington Spirit investor
Washington Capitals star Alex Ovechkin becomes an investor in the Washington Spirit of the National Women’s Soccer League.
âI think it’s important to support women and professional female athletes – not just in the United States, but around the world,â Ovechkin told ESPN. âIt was also important for me to support the DC community. I support everyone in this city. My wife and I love to go to a soccer game, watch soccer and baseball. We all win. If I have this opportunity, I think it’s very important for me to do that, because it also shows that we care. “
Ovechkin said he was also inspired by his mother, Tatyana, a two-time Olympic gold medalist for Russia. Ovechkin said his mother taught him that “it doesn’t matter whether you are male or female, you should be able to pursue the same goals as a professional athlete.”
“I think it’s amazing,” Tori Huster, the Spirit captain, who has spent her nine-year NWSL career with the club, told ESPN. âI’m sure his mother passed on not only his athletic ability, but also her understanding of a level playing field from the start. All the male athletes that I’ve spent time with, worked with, or played with – if they didn’t already see the value, once you’re in and around playing them, and doing as much work as they do, they understand the importance of balancing the playing field. I’m sure that’s what his mum does. I think it’s cool that years later he’s a grown man now, and he still sees it. value. He also supports a team in his city – a city that loves him. “
Ovechkin, 35, is in his 16th season in Washington. The Capitals captain becomes an unrestricted free agent this offseason – talks both sides have agreed to hold until this summer. Ovechkin has 730 career goals, just 164 short of Wayne Gretzky’s all-time record.
Ovechkin joins a growing group of famous investors in the NWSL this season. Former first daughters Chelsea Clinton and Jenna Bush and Olympic gold medalist gymnast Dominique Dawes have already become investors in Spirit. Naomi Osaka became the owner of North Carolina Courage, while Serena Williams, Natalie Portman, Billie Jean King and Lindsey Vonn invested in Angel City FC.
The Esprit kicks off its 24-game season on May 16, when the NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs are scheduled to begin.
“I think now is the time,” Steve Baldwin, Managing Partner of Spirit, told ESPN. âWe are facing a situation where 99% of sponsorship dollars go to men and 96% of media coverage goes to men’s sports. You kind of need an army within your community to help take women’s sport to another level. in women’s football can really change the game and really change the world in so many ways. “
Ovechkin is a huge football fan and has previously said he supports both Barcelona and Liverpool.
“My dad was a footballer, he played for Dynamo, but he got injured and he stopped playing,” Ovechkin said. “I have friends who play for the national team in Russia. I love playing soccer in the summer with my friends. I think I’m good, but probably not good.”
Ovechkin also said that when he retires he is potentially interested in pursuing other sports ownership opportunities.
“I would love to be in Ted’s shoes, I can’t lie to you,” Ovechkin said with a laugh, referring to Capitals owner Ted Leonsis. “But seriously, I don’t know what I’d like to do. I still think I still have a few more years to play, so we’ll see.”
Ovechkin says he would like to be involved with Spirit more than just money.
“If I have the chance I have the time, I would love to go to practice, I would love to go to games,” said Ovechkin. “I can’t wait to meet the players. I think it’s essential to be involved in these kinds of things. To support women’s football, I think it’s pretty cool.”
Huster said Ovechkin’s presence would be welcome throughout the franchise. Huster was named president of the NWSL players’ association last year and said one of the organization’s biggest concerns is inequality – especially in pay. NWSL salaries have improved with every season since its inception in 2013, but the minimum unallocated player salary in 2021 is $ 22,000 and the maximum is $ 52,500.
“I think [Ovechkin] could really make headway here, and show that we’re precious, and he believes that, “Huster said.” I’m sure that will only be reinforced when he meets all of our players and staff. He too will have a really cool take on sport in general and what is professional. He can show us how to raise the bar and the standards – some that we might find excellent, but he can identify what we can do to improve ourselves, whether in the medical department or in the media department. We need allies like him in men’s sports who will help us make those improvements. “