What: Colombia vs. Venezuela (in Miami) and Argentina vs. Guatemala (in Los Angeles) soccer friendlies are set for Sept. 7
Why it matters: Soccer in the U.S. was dealt a blow with the National Team’s absence from FIFA World Cup, but the sport is stronger than ever in the Hispanic community here, with these two friendlies and the International Champions Cup hitting this summer.

FIFA World Cup (@FIFAWorldCupwill be contested half a world away, but supporters and natives of four Latin American countries will be able to see their favorite national teams in action in friendlies set for September 7. Colombia will take on Venezuela at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami, while traditional powerhouse Argentina will battle Guatemala at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.

The matchups and locations lean heavily on the popularity of the sport among the Hispanic community in South Florida and Southern California and beyond. The first is a prelude to the planned MLS expansion into the market (@futbolmiamimls) set to debut in 2020, led by David Beckham, and the second comes with the timely announcement that a portion of ticket sales will be donated to Guatemalan relief efforts following the devastating Mount Fuego volcano eruption.

The friendlies, along with the MLS expansion and numerous U.S. locations in this summer’s International Champions Cup are strong signals that promoters and marketers aren’t giving up on the sport…

The matches feature successful squads in Colombia (ranked No. 16 in the world) and Argentina (No. 8), which will both begin Group Play at World Cup in the next week in Russia, battling upstarts in Venezuela and Guatemala, neither of whose sides have ever qualified for the event. And why they may not be marquee pairings, marketing organizers CMN Sports (@CMNEvents) and Relevent (@C_Stillitanoare hoping the World Cup boost in interest in the sport here carries over into September.

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Credit: Danilo Borges-copa2014.gov.br

“CMN Sports is excited to partner with Relevent to showcase these talented teams,” said Henry Cárdenas, President of CMN Sports, in a statement. “Colombia is a World Cup contender and has shown enormous potential, making them a very tough opponent for Venezuela. We hope fans will enjoy this South American rivalry at one of the most iconic stadiums in the country.”

“Relevent is committed to bringing the incredible culture and enthusiasm of international soccer to the U.S. and this match is sure to deliver that excitement to new and established fans alike,” said Charlie Stillitano, Co-Founder and Executive Chairman of Relevent. “We look forward to celebrating both of these national teams and their fans, while honoring all of those affected by the natural disaster in Guatemala.”

The friendlies, along with the MLS expansion and numerous U.S. locations in this summer’s International Champions Cup (@IntChampionsCupare strong signals that promoters and marketers aren’t giving up on the sport despite the absence of the U.S. National Team from the World Cup.

Cover Image: credit Tasnim News Agency

What: Portada spoke with Arno Trabesinger, FC Barcelona’s Managing Director Americas, about the Spanish club’s expansion plans for Latin America.
Why it matters: Last September, FC Barcelona opened new offices in New York, in an effort to boost its growth throughout the American continent, with a special focus on Latin America.

Arno Trabesinger

Since FC Barcelona Director Ramón Adell’s arrival two years ago, the team has embarked on the road to globalization. “We want to be the most global team of all sports, and Latin America is the base because soccer here is already [the] number one [sport],” said Arno Trabesinger, FC Barcelona’s Managing Director Americas.

To fulfill this goal, FC Barcelona is looking to solidify its presence in Latin America in 2017 through strategic efforts. “Latin America is very important for us, due to the fact that we have so many fans following the team in the region,” added Trabesinger.

Latin America is very important for us, due to the fact that we have so many fans following the team in the region.

According to the team’s social networks analysis, Mexico is the second largest country with the largest number of followers worldwide on the club’s Facebook page, surpassed only by Indonesia. In Latin America, Mexico is the largest, followed by Brazil and Colombia.

IndonesiaAsiaAsia Pacific9,611,980
EgyptAfricaMena / North Africa3,639,034
United StatesAmericaNorth America3,478,937
TurkeyEuropeEurope / (Mena)2,359,360

In Mexico, football fans follow their favorite local team, but also support and follow one or more European teams, explained Trabesinger. “That’s where we want to be number one. In addition, we have nine Latin American players on our team, so that gets us more fans in the region.”

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The goal now is to take advantage of the attention that the club already has to keep it growing. In addition to its social networks strategies, which are dictated from Barcelona, “a relevant marketing tool for Latin America is the team’s soccer schools for children ages 8-16. We have several already in Peru, Guatemala, Brazil, and Mexico, and we want to open more throughout the year,” he added.

A relevant marketing tool for Latin America is the team’s soccer schools.

These schools represent an opportunity for brand development and brand building among children and young soccer fans.

Looking for more sponsors

Growing its network of followers is undoubtedly one of Barça’s objectives, but “growing our business opportunities” is also a goal, said Trabesinger.

In 2015, the team signed a regional agreement in Latin America with Canada’s Scotiabank, which will run through the 2018-2019 season. It also has local sponsorship deals with foot deodorant brand Baruel Tenysa Pe in Brazil, and with Tecate beer in Mexico, in addition to its global sponsorship agreements with Nike, Gatorade, Gillette, and Stanley Black & Decker.

“We are looking for partnerships in Latin America, especially in Mexico and Brazil. That’s why we came to New York, to strengthen our LatAm efforts from here,” he explained.

The club seeks to add marketers to its New York office who know the Latin American market well, and know how to bring together partners in this region.

When adding brands, the most important thing is that they support the philosophy of the club. “We want sponsors who are proud to be part of the family, and are interested in activating at the local level,” said Trabesinger.

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In addition, the team wants to sign agreements lasting a minimum of three to four years. “We want partners who will stay with the team in the long run,” he said.

We want partners who will stay with the team in the long run.

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