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by Paul Kennedy

Players under the age of 18 have played in MLS for years.

In 2021, 12 MLS players have already made their first appearance of the season before their 18th birthday.

Players start out very young in pro leagues around the world -- men's leagues and women's league.

U-18 Players: 2020-21 women's leagues
1. Italian Serie A, 30
2. Dutch Eredivisie Vrouwen, 16
3. German Frauen-Bundesliga, 11
4. English Women's Super League, 8
4. French D1 Arkema, 8
Source: FBref.com.

Why then can the National Women’s Soccer League impose an age ban preventing players under the age of 18 from playing in the only U.S. women's pro league?

That's what 15-year-old Olivia Moultrie asked in filing an antitrust lawsuit against the NWSL in U.S. district court in Portland, Oregon.

Judge Karin Immergut agreed with Moultrie, who moved from California to Oregon two years ago to train with the Portland Thorns.

A 14-day temporary restraining order was issued on Monday, allowing Moultrie to sign with an NWSL team. By issuing a temporary restraining order, the court determined it's likely Moultrie will win her case and she would be harmed if she wasn't granted temporary relief.

The NWSL made several arguments to justify its age rule that the court rejected. Among them:

-- It was a single-entity (and therefore could not legally conspire with itself for the purposes of one of the elements of an antitrust claim);
-- There were safety concerns about a minor playing in the league and the cost of caring for minors was burdensome.

(An age rule, to have any chance of passing legal muster, would have to be bargained for in a collective bargaining agreement. The NWSL has no collective bargaining agreement but negotiations have been taking place.)

The bottom line, for the court: "The only thing currently standing between Plaintiff and her aspiration to be a professional soccer player in this country is her gender. Promoting gender equity in athletics is clearly in the public interest.”

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Curious how this doesn't fall under child labor law in this country?

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Who cares?

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Originally Posted by Anonymous
Who cares?

Do you have a daughter? This is more important than the USWNT equal pay suit that fizzled. Why should a 15 year old boy be able to play professional soccer, but a girl cant?

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Important to who? If you are the one 15 year old girl that wants to play professional soccer then this is fantastic and we are happy for her. But having been at this for years and years and years with multiple players in the so-called top soccer leagues available, I think I have only come across one player, period, with the interest and possible (but not likely) talent to play professional soccer.

Around here, high-level soccer is played by kids from well off families that want to send their kids to college and grad school to get an education and have successful careers. Do you know have much this high level soccer nonsense costs? Most families are cut out of it from the get go.

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Why play NWSL at 15? To sign a $60,000 contract if she's lucky. We talk a about boys around the world doing this and turning pro. Yes, those boys earn $60,000 a month. BIG DIFFERENCE in my opinion. To the same we could make a long list of 15 year olds who turn pro in soccer and by the age of 19 they are working in a factory with no education.

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Every time I see this girl's name, I actually see the likes of Andre Agassi, or Todd Marinovich.

Look, I have two daughters who played soccer and equality and equity for them is big for me but this kid is being used and abused by her parents.

She is one misstep away from a torn ACL and then she's got nothing but a story of how she could have been the best.

It's really disgusting what the adults in her world are doing to her. Just because they can make a buck off her.

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