Korean-American businesswoman Michele Kang (pictured) has taken the first step towards creating a women’s version of the City Football Group.
AP reported on May 17 that Kang, the owner of the Washington Spirit of the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL), has signed a deal to lead a global multi-team women’s football group that owns the Washington Spirit and the French club Olympique Lyonnais Féminin.
According to the contract between OL Groupe, which owns Lyonnais, and their largest shareholding Eagle Football Holdings, a first-of-its-kind global multi-team women’s football organization will be created.
Kang will be the majority owner and CEO of the newly formed company, making it the first woman-owned and led multi-club football organization.
Kang will also join the board of directors of OL Groupe, which holds a stake in the new entity. The deal is pending approval by the NWSL’s governing body, which is expected to be finalized by the end of June.
Kang has already attended the Women’s France Cup finale on May 13, where she lifted the trophy with Lyonnais Féminin players.
Kang also plans to acquire additional clubs in other countries through her new entity. This implies her vision to build this organization into a global soccer entity like the City Football Group and Red Bull Football in men’s soccer.
The City Football Group is a group of more than 10 clubs, including Melbourne City (Australia), Yokohama F. Marinos (Japan), and Girona (Spain), while Red Bull Football operates professional soccer teams in four countries: Austria (Salzburg), the United States (New York Red Bulls), Brazil (Bragantino), and Germany (Leipzig).
“This deal represents a major step forward in the history of women’s professional football,” Kang said in a statement. “It brings together the unparalleled tradition of the eight-time Champions League-winning OL Féminin and the dynamism of the 2021 NWSL Champion Spirit to usher our sport into a new era. The complete alignment and support for this vision among the OL Groupe board and key principals, including Jean-Michel Aulas, John Textor, and myself, is very powerful. It is a great honor to take stewardship of OL Féminin and lead this unprecedented effort on behalf of the fans, players, and staff of both teams.”
Kang is the founder and CEO of Cognosante, a public sector healthcare consultancy. After attending Sogang University in 1981, she studied abroad and served as the vice chairman and general manager of Northrop Grumman, a global aerospace and defense company, before founding Cognosante in Falls Church, Virginia, in 2008.
Kang had co-owned the NWSL’s Washington Spirit with Bill Lynch and Steve Baldwin since 2020 before she bought out all of their shares and became the majority owner in February 2022.