Olivia Moultrie is on the verge of signing a NWSL contract, bringing the 15-year-old midfielder one step closer to playing in the league, according to The Athletic.
The Portland Thorns have reportedly traded a third-round draft pick for the rights to sign Moultrie in a trade with OL Reign, who acquired Moultrie's rights in a "first-come, first-served" discovery process, the report said. Moultrie has trained and played in preseason games for the Thorns over the past two years, but was not allowed by to play in official NWSL matches.
Moultrie, who turned pro after signing a Nike endorsement deal at 13 years old, is currently suing the league for its age rule barring players under 18 from signing with a team.
Last month, a federal judge granted a temporary restraining order allowing Moultrie to sign with an NWSL team on the grounds that the league's age rule violated antitrust laws and hampered Moultrie’s career development, saying the NWSL lawyers "have offered no legitimate procompetitive justification for treating young women who want an opportunity to play professional soccer differently than young men.”
However, the league said that it would need time to develop a discovery claim system given the unique circumstances, before the judge held talks with both sides' attorneys last week to open the process, according to The Athletic.
According to the report, a hearing on a preliminary injunction is set for Monday, where the NWSL will continue to argue that it is currently in negotiations over a collective bargaining agreement that may influence a decision on the age rule.
Given the ongoing litigation, Moultrie's status is still uncertain as any potential decision against her or the temporary restraining order would limit her chances of playing in the NWSL.
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