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What: Sports Illustrated’s / Planet Fútbol’s Luis Miguel Echegaray brings a fresh new voice to the company’s sports coverage.
Why it matters: As head of Latino / Spanish content at Sports Illustrated, Luis Miguel Echegaray is looking to grow SI.com’s audience, making the website and TV shows a “go to” spot for Hispanic sports fans.

Luis Miguel Echegaray‘s (@lmechegaray) path to Sports Illustrated (@SInowtook him through three continents, a career change, and a patient wife.

Born in London, the 37-year-old Peruvian had dreams of acting in William Shakespeare-inspired dramas, not analyzing José Mourinho’s latest drama at Manchester United (@ManUtd). And yet, after making a career change from acting to journalism, Echegaray’s journey has landed him on Planet Fútbol (@si_soccer).

“The acting and writing world is very inconsistent, I wasn’t leaving a Wall Street job or anything like that,” said Echegaray. “But it was scary, especially trying to build a life with my wife. Luckily, it became the right move, and honestly, it’s the best move and gamble I ever made.”

Echegaray currently co-hosts Sports Illustrated’s Planet Fútbol television show, along with long-time SI.com soccer analyst Grant Wahl (@GrantWahl), adding a Hispanic perspective to go along with Wahl’s vast journalistic experience.

Reporting is different than engagement. Engagement is what is going to create opportunities to tell meaningful stories that truly move the conversation forward.

Launched in 2014 as a SI.com vertical platform, PlanetFutbol.com is a Sports Illustrated’s stand-alone website, modeled after The MMQB (@theMMQB) and Extra Mustard (@SI_ExtraMustard), aimed at covering soccer year-round. Planet Fútbol continued its growth, evolving into a television show airing on Amazon Prime (@PrimeVideo), part of the sports website’s new partnership with Amazon’s SI TV Channel.

Luis Miguel Echegaray (L) and Borussia Dortmund / United States national team star Christian Pulisic (R).

Echegaray, looking for a career change, in 2013, wanted to capitalize on both his love of the arts and soccer as he started on his new career adventure. He wrote, directed, and narrated a short-film titled The Fall Kings, focusing on Martin Luther King Jr. High School, a successful New York City high school soccer team made up entirely of immigrant children. Echegaray credits The Fall Kings for helping him get into The Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism (@newmarkjschool) at the City University of New York (@CUNY).

“Soccer was always a big part of my life,” said Echegaray. “I played it at a pretty high level, I actually coached it for a long time, so I wanted to mix both worlds; storytelling, film-making, and reporting. I didn’t know anything about journalism and [The Fall Kings] became my ticket to C.U.N.Y. and C.U.N.Y. pretty much changed my life, just learning about the aspect of storytelling and reporting and journalism.”

Echegaray credits his acting background for giving him an advantage, as he adjusted to life in graduate school. Despite being a journalistic newbie, Echegaray quickly noticed that he managed to achieve a better rapport with people he interviewed compared to his classmates, noting that journalists, ironically, are not great communicators when it comes to human interaction.

Luis Miguel Echegaray (L) & Chicago Fire’s Bastian Schweinsteiger (R)

“It’s been a really great asset for me to be able to empathize, and empathy is the keyword, where I try and think about my projects and what I do, from a more human perspective as opposed to just reporting,” said Echegaray. “Reporting is different than engagement. Engagement is what is going to create opportunities to tell meaningful stories that truly move the conversation forward. And in this day in age, with what’s happening with the world right now, it’s so important to not just report but create meaningful engagement. And that’s where I think the acting really helped me.”

Graduate school opened up opportunities for Echegaray, landing gigs with VICE HBO, and The Guardian U.S. (@GuardianUS), Newsweek (@Newsweek), Univision (@Univision), and Remezcla (@REMEZCLA). In 2017, he was hired as head of Latino / Spanish content at Sports Illustrated.

“Not only am I co-hosting a show with my friend and great reporter, Grant Wahl, but what I’m really doing that makes me valuable is that we are trying try grow the Latino audience,” said Echegaray. “Not just grow it but make Sports Illustrated a place where the Hispanic audience in the U.S. feels like we are representing them. We are talking about sports, not just from a sports perspective, but from a cultural perspective.”

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Other broadcasting companies and websites are also attempting to capture that cultural point-of-view, with English-speaking sports coverage in the U.S. adding bilingual talent, in recent years.

Fox Sports (@FOXSports), who owned the English-language rights to the 2018 Russia World Cup, added Fernando Fiore (@FernandoFiore), formerly of Univision’s highly popular Republica Deportiva (@RepDeportiva), to host the FIFA World Cup Tonight show, along with Kate Abdo (@kate_abdo). Fox Sports also added Jorge Perez-Navarro (@jpereznavarro), formerly of Univision and ESPN Deportes, to do play-by-play English commentary, bringing a Hispanic flair to the commentary boothEchegaray also points to ESPN Deportes’ (@ESPNdeportes) Herculez Gomez (@herculezg), Sebastian Salazar (@SebiSalazarFUT), and Max Bretos (@mbretosESPN) as other examples of Latinos making waves in the industry.

And while Echegaray loves the fact very talented people are receiving these opportunities, he believes in pushing further, giving way to even more voices.

“We’re moving the needle, there is no denying that, but there is still a long way to go,” said Echegaray. “I think that in order for us to make a statement we need more women in the industry. I think we need more Latinas, not just reporting but also being in positions of decision-making. I do think we are making progress, it’s great to see but I want more, and I want more women because I really believe there are so many amazing female voices that have yet to be heard.”

A summary of the most exciting news in soccer marketing. If you’re trying to keep up, consider this your one-stop shop.

  • HeinekenHeineken extended its Major League Soccer partnership for five more years, to serve as the Official Beer of MLS. Heineken will continue to sponsor Rivalry Week. “Soccer has been a crucial platform for Heineken across the globe with multiple league, team and championship game sponsorships. In the U.S., our partnership with MLS has helped drive the sport’s rapid expansion and growing popularity,” said Felix Palau, Heineken SVP of marketing, in a statement.
  • The Chicago Fire Soccer Club announced a partnership with Evanston Soccer Association to bring numerous programs, services and supplemental playing opportunities to ESA and its players. ESA will rebrand its Under-13 through Under-19 boys and girls age groups to Chicago Fire Juniors North Shore.

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  • CHIVASLigaMX soccer team Chivas and German Borussia Dortmund have started a knowledge-sharing partnership. The Bundesliga and Liga MX teams will collaborate on financial, sports and administration strategies, as well as player signings and marketing.
  • The Los Angeles Galaxy announced a multi-year extension of their partnership with Constellation Brands. Modelo Especial will become the exclusive import beer sponsor of both the LA Galaxy and their StubHub Center home, with branding displayed throughout the stadium. Constellation Brands will also be listed as a founding partner of the 27,000-seater stadium.
  • Fifa has sealed a deal with Russian telecoms operator Rostelecom as partner of this year’s Fifa World Cup national team tournament. As part of the deal, Rostelecom will receive a range of rights, including LED board exposure at matches during the tournament and the opportunity to run ticket raffles.

Check out the stars of Portada’s Sports Marketing Board, who will meet at Portada Miami on April 18-19 to discuss various topics related to the future of marketing and innovation in sports. Register now!

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