Olivia Moultrie is rejoining the team that has helped her develop the past two seasons. The Portland Thorns acquired Moultrie from the OL Reign, and she will sign a deal to play in the NWSL, according to Paul Tenorio and Meg Linehan of The Athletic.
The contract is a long time coming for Moultrie, who went pro at 13, but has been unable to sign in the NSWL due to the league's minimum age rule. Moultrie sued the league rule prohibiting NWSL teams from signing players under the age of 18. A judge temporarily halted that rule, paving the way for Moultrie to finally join the NWSL.
Moultrie, now 15, was claimed by the Reign on Friday. The Thorns traded a third-round pick for Moultrie's rights. Moultrie has worked out with the Thorns the past two seasons, though was unable to sign with the team or play in games due to the under-18 rule.
Olivia Moultrie vs. NWSL will continue Monday
The rulings in Moultrie's favor thus far have only been temporary. A preliminary hearing will take place Monday. Moultrie's team will argue the NWSL's rule goes against anti-trust laws. The NWSL plans to argue the rule "was conceived by the league before there were any owner-operators, that no owners voted on the rule and that none committed to abide by it," according to Linehan and Tenorio. The league is also arguing that the age issue should be included in the league's collective-bargaining agreement (CBA). The NWSL is currently in the process of forming its first CBA.
If Moultrie loses her fight against the NWSL, it's possible she'll be ruled ineligible and unable to play games with the Thorns.
It's unclear how quickly the issue will be resolved. The Thorns play their next game June 20, leaving a few weeks for the situation to get sorted out.
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