Relevent Sports


What: A new grassroots campaign, #BringUSTheGame, was launched last week by La Liga North America in support of the January 29 regular season club matchup between FC Barcelona and Girona FC.
Why it matters: La Liga and its U.S. partner Relevent Sports face opposition from some entities, including FIFA and the Spanish federation RFEF and are looking to push public opinion in its favor for the scheduled match.

Continuing its push to bring an actual league match between FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelonaand Girona FC (@GironaFCto Miami on Jan. 29, LaLiga (@LaLigaENNorth America last week announced a grassroots campaign in support of the game, which has faced some opposition from other soccer entities. Under the theme “It’s good for the fans. It’s good for the game.” the #BringUSTheGame promotion includes a mobile alerts signup, online petition and extensive online presence for the contest at Hard Rock Stadium.

“Fans across the country are excited for the chance to see their heroes play here at home. We know that the love for soccer has been growing by leaps and bounds over the years in the United States. Having the best league in the world play this game in Miami will continue to energize the millions of fans in America and accelerate the growth of the US soccer fan base,” said Boris Gartner, CEO of LaLiga North America in a statement. “This game has the chance to be something special, with real points on the line, and it is our hope that American soccer fans will get to experience the game in person played at its highest level.”

#BringUSTheGame is the league’s attempt to win in another venue: the court of public opinion.
Luis Suárez (Wikimedia/Lluís)

The top Spanish league has been one of the most proactive in extending their brand, and those of its clubs, in the U.S. and Latin America, with a variety of recent initiatives. The effort to bring this match, the first European club regular season to be held on U.S. soil, to Florida has been challenged by FIFA (@FIFAcomand the Spanish Football Federation (@rfef), whose president, Luis Rubiales, feels “disrespected” in working with groups other than RFEF to organize. The main issue is that as a league match and not a friendly, RFEF believes it should have been consulted. (Or perhaps been “cut in” on the deal?)

So where to next? Clearly, there is a market for European football in the U.S., and La Liga in particular: when Real Madrid played FC Barcelona as part of the International Champions Cup in Miami last year, over 1.7 million viewers tuned in on ESPN. Relevent Sports, La Liga’s New York-based partner in plans to bringing a game to the U.S. in each of the next 15 years, wants to avoid the characterization of the effort as an “Astroturf” campaign.

The Portada Brand-Sports Summit in Los Angeles on March 15, 2019 (Hotel Loews Santa Monica) will provide a unique setting for brand marketers to learn about the opportunities sports and soccer content offers to engage consumers in the U.S. and Latin America.

“As American sports clamor for exposure abroad and the major soccer clubs themselves look to grow their brands with marketing dollars here, this seems really counterintuitive,” said Harrie Bakst, a longtime sports marketer who has worked with elite teams and leagues in and out of soccer.  “This seems more like a power play internally for dollars than a real disruption in the course of business for the clubs involved. if it doesn’t happen it says a lot about the short term growth issues clubs see vs. the bigger long term picture. My bet is that there is soccer in Miami in January, the first of what will be seen as a regular occurrence in the years to come.”

It could end up in the courts, as La Liga has indicated that it would take the case to the Court of Arbitration for Sport should FIFA try to prevent the match from occurring. #BringUSTheGame is the league’s attempt to win in another venue: the court of public opinion. Stay tuned.

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What: Relevent Sports unveiled the full lineup of clubs set to participate in the 2017 International Champions Cup (ICC) presented by Heineken.
Why it matters: Real estate investor and entrepreneur Stephen Ross’ intention to make a money juggernaut out of soccer friendlies is well-known in sports marketing circles.  Ross and business partner Matt Higgins, founded Relevent Sports five years ago to manage the ICC. David Tyler, CEO of Relevent Sports, tells Portada that sponsorship and broadcast right sales are now a very substantial component of ICC’s revenues.

The fifth installment of the ICC summer soccer tournament will have eight of the world’s best soccer clubs facing off in world-class venues across the United States. The  summer tournament will run from July 19 – 30, 2017. The general public will have access to tickets for all matches starting Tuesday, April 4. In the U.S. the match will be broadcast, as well as streamed, by ESPN (English) and ESPN Deportes (Spanish). The ICC which also has an Asian edition, is a unique example of top European soccer clubs playing in the United States. David Tyler, CEO of Relevent Sports, the company that manages the ICC, tells Portada that traditionally stadium ticket sales have been the main revenue component of the ICC but that this year this dominance has substantially decreased with sponsorships and broadcast rights now being a very substantial revenue stream. In addition to the U.S. ICC is broadcast in Europe, Asia, Africa and Latin America.

First El Clásico in the U.S.

The 2017 International Champions Cup presented by Heineken will be headlined by the first ever El Clásico to take place in the United States and first outside of Spain since 1982. El Clásico Miami will see longtime rivals Real Madrid C.F. and FC Barcelona match up on Saturday, July 29 at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami. Hailed as one of sport’s all-time greatest rivalries, the current rosters for each club feature some of the best players in the world, underscored by the fact that these two clubs currently hold the titles for the Spanish La Liga and UEFA Champions League. Sources at Relevent Sports told Portada that the Real Madrid -Barcelona match this summer already has sold 41,000 tickets.

The Real Madrid – Barcelona match already sold 41,000 tickets.

The Manchester Derby will also head stateside with English Premier League powerhouses Manchester City F.C. and Manchester United F.C. meeting on Thursday, July 20 with the venue to be announced at a later date. The Derby features two clubs who boast a combined 24 EPL titles, including seven of the previous ten.

David Tyler, CEO, Relevent Sports

Also participating in the 2017 International Champions Cup presented by Heineken will be current Italian Serie A champions Juventus F.C., current French Ligue 1 champions and defending International Champions Cup (ICC) champions Paris Saint-Germain F.C., as well as English Premier League powerhouse Tottenham Hotspur F.C. and famed Serie A club, AS Roma, all of whom qualified for the UEFA Champions League in 2016.

“The International Champions Cup continues to bring the biggest clubs of the world to the United States,” said David Tyler, CEO of Relevent Sports. “Our commitment to world-class competition and achieving the ultimate fan experience is only matched by the energy that these clubs will bring to ICC stadiums across the country.”

Each participating team will play three matches as part of the 2017 International Champions Cup presented by Heineken. Each win in regulation will result in three points and a tie will go straight to a shootout; the winning team in a shootout will receive two points and the losing team will receive one. The team with the most points at the end of the tournament will be crowned champion.

Heineken Sponsorship

For the second consecutive year, Heineken is the presenting sponsor of the 2017 International Champions Cup.
“Soccer is a part of our global heritage and our sponsorship with the International Champions Cup reinforces our love and commitment to the game,” said Nuno Teles, Chief Marketing Officer, Heineken USA “For the second year, we’ll be bringing historic matches from top European teams to the U.S. so soccer fans can come together, enjoy a Heineken and experience some of the best teams and players the sport has to offer.” In addition to Heineken, the 2017 tournament sponsors include: Ally, Nike, Orlando, Chevrolet, AON, Groupon, VividSeats, Gatorade and Xyience. Additional partners will be announced in the coming months. All matches for the International Champions Cup will be carried on ESPN networks including ESPN, ESPN2, ESPN Deportes and streaming network ESPN3, accessible through WatchESPN and the ESPN App. This year’s tournament is expected to be broadcast in over 170 territories.

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