MLS World Football Challenge 2012: Growing Football in the U.S.

Hi everyone,
I often mention on this blog the ongoing growth of football in the United States. Marketing partnerships, digital activations, TV rights deals are some solid pilars MLS is using to grow football/soccer in North America but to also generate additional revenue streams. One significant activity utilized to grow the beautiful game in the U.S. is global clubs friendlies during summer. During the 2012 World Football Challenge, Real Madrid, PSG, Liverpool and Chelsea will play friendly games vs MLS teams.

Los Angeles Galaxy vs Real Madrid
August 2, 10.30 PM (ET) at the Home Depot Center (CA)

The LA Galaxy, Major League Soccer and CAA Sports announced today that the Galaxy will face La Liga champions Real Madrid in an international friendly at The Home Depot Center on Thursday, August 2. That game, which will kick off at 7:30 p.m., will be played as part of the World Football Challenge, which returns this summer, featuring a number of Europe’s top club teams taking on the best of MLS. Complete ticketing information for this game will be released at a future date.

Chelsea vs Paris St Germain
July 22, 7.00PM (ET) at the Yankee Stadium (NY)

English giants Chelsea FC will face French powerhouse Paris Saint-Germain in the first soccer match ever at the new Yankee Stadium — home field of Major League Baseball’s New York Yankees — on July 22 (7 pm ET).
“Chelsea Football Club is delighted to be heading to New York after such a long time away, and it will be a real pleasure to visit Yankee Stadium for what is sure to be a competitive game,” Chelsea chief executive Ron Gourlay said in a statement. “Paris St Germain represents a true test for us in our preparations for the new season. We know Carlo well and respect the superb job he did for us, and continues to do in France. It should be a fantastic game.”

Chelsea vs AC Milan
July 28, 6.00 PM (ET) at Sun Life Stadium Miami (FL)

After more than 70,000 people jammed Sun Life Stadium last year to watch Chivas Guadalajara defeat FC Barcelona in a thrilling WFC encounter, South Florida’s soccer fans will get another treat this summer as Euro heavyweights Chelsea and AC Milan do battle on Sat., July 28 (6 p.m. ET).

Toronto vs Liverpool
July 21, 4.00 PM (ET) at Roger Center Toronto (Canada)

It was announced on Tuesday that Toronto FC will welcome English Premier League club Liverpool FC in a 2012 World Football Challenge match that will be played in the retractable-roof stadium on Saturday, July 21 at 4 pm ET.

A natural grass surface will be installed for the event, which will mark the first meeting between an MLS team and the storied English side.

Both clubs, who wear red as their primary color, have a history at the Rogers Centre with TFC selling out the building most recently in a memorable March 7 CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinal first leg match against the LA Galaxy. The MLS Canadian side made history by advancing to the tournament semis on the heels of that 2-2 home draw. [Source: MLS & LA Galaxy]

When Arsenal and Manchester will be in Asia for summer tour friendlies, other global football clubs have chosen the U.S. market to launch their pre season training, and at the same time promote their brand, engage with their U.S. fan base and contribute to growing football in North America.

AC Milan, Liverpool, newly crowned Real Madrid and Paris St Germain – potentially french Champions – will play pre season friendly games at the World Football Challenge 2012.

The question is whether gobals clubs such as AC Milan or Liverpool, by playing friendly games against MLS teams, contribute to grow the sport in North America. My answer is Yes.

It’s a win-win situation. Clubs connect and engage with their (strong) fan base in the U.S., sell merchandise, tickets, concession, etc, launch marketing and digital initiatives, and ultimately promote their brand and tap into a new market.

Growing football in the USA is the outstanding work of Soccer United Marketing, the Marketing/sales arm of the Major League Soccer. The global clubs summer tours have become an effective and powerful initiative to answer to a very young, football aware and tech savvy demographics.

Karl Lusbec

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