World Cup


What: PSG star Neymar Jr has signed on with global banking firm QNB as Brand Ambassador and is a key member of the soccer-centric OTRO digital fan club.
Why it matters: Neymar Jr’s international appeal has never been stronger and is still growing, as the 26-year-old Brazilian star continues his ascent up the Forbes top sports earners list.

Flickr/Antoine Dellenbach

Paris Saint-Germain (@PSG_insidestar Neymar Jr (@neymarjrhas never been bigger. The Brazilian standout has helped PSG to a sizable lead in the French Ligue 1 (@Ligue1_ENGstandings to date with 11 goals, and his off-field success may be even greater. At 26, his estimated income this year is $90 million USD, with Forbes ranking him 13th among sports figures worldwide. A growing portion of that is via sponsorship, with Gillette (@Gillette), McDonalds (@McDonalds), Nike (@Nikeand, more recently, GaGà Milano (@GaGaMilanoWorldand Café Pilão (@cafe_pilaoshowing the breadth of his appeal.

The São Paulo native added two notable partners recently, one on the endorsement side and another in digital communication. This month, Middle East/African financial giant QNB Group (@QNBGroupnamed him as Global Brand Ambassador (expect to see plenty of Neymar Jr-themed QNB marketing soon among soccer circles). This comes following soccer-focused digital platform OTRO (@OTRO) having announced that he is among several international stars signing on to the Players’ Tribune-type site.

Neymar Jr’s social media footprint is enormous: more than 200 million followers on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram alone. This connection with young fans across many lines worldwide makes him attractive to brands like QNB.

In his playing prime and with a five-year contract with PSG in hand, expect to see Neymar Jr’s name even higher on next year’s Forbes rankings.

“We are delighted to welcome Neymar to the QNB family; a man who shares many of the same values with our brand and who is always looking for opportunities to reach greatness,” said Yousef Darwish, General Manager of QNB Group Communications, in a statement. Named one of the 100 most influential people in the world, Neymar Jr is a true sport icon who inspires fans worldwide to strive to reach the ultimate standards of excellence.”

The ambassadorship expands upon QNB’s partnership with Paris Saint-Germain, which includes a sleeve logo on the team kit as well as other financial connections to the club.


Join us at PORTADA LOS ANGELES on March 15, 2019 at the Loews Beach Hotel Santa Monica, where we will dive deep into sports and soccer marketing’s preeminent topics. Felix Palau, VP Marketing, Heineken will discuss “How to measure ROI and transfer best practices between sports marketing platforms”. Other speaking engagements include Tiago Pinto, Global Marketing Director, Gatorade who will provide answers to the question: “Will Corporate America jump on the soccer opportunity?”Attendees will also be able to benefit from Portada’s meet-up service of three-eight-minute meetings with top brand executives!


And his connection with OTRO affords Neymar Jr another opportunity to present these and other partners and causes. Lionel Messi, David Beckham, James Rodriguez and Luis Suarez are among the others on board with OTRO, a “freemium”-model site which last week announced a new round of investment.

In his playing prime and with a five-year contract with PSG in hand, expect to see Neymar Jr’s name even higher on next year’s Forbes rankings as the Brazilian national team star continues his ascent into the top echelon of sports figures worldwide.

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Cover Image: credit Fernando Frazão/Agência Brasil

What: MLS and Liga Bancomer MX have reportedly discussed the possibility of a superleague, encompassing clubs in Canada, the U.S. and Mexico.
Why it matters: The opportunities for partners in such a superleague would be enticing, with more than 50 combined markets across North America.

credit: Flickr/Paul Bailey

When The United Bid (@united2026), submitted together by the U.S., Canada and Mexico soccer federations, to host the 2026 FIFA World Cup (@FIFAWorldCupproved successful, speculation grew that the partnership between the North American nations could be expanded into other areas to further grow the game on the continent. Now fans are wondering what a combined Major League Soccer (@MLSand Liga Bancomer MX (@LIGABancomerMXmight look like, as reports out of last month’s Leaders Summit in the UK quote Liga MX President Enrique Bonilla as being open to further discussion.

“It’s a possibility, a North American league,” he said to reporters there. “We have to determine how and see the pros and cons, but I think that’s a way to grow and to compete again. “If we can make a World Cup then we can make a North American league or a North American cup. The main idea is that we have to grow together to compete. If not, there is only going to be the rich guys in Europe and the rest of the world.”

…[T]he combined North American entity for World Cup, the MLS-Liga MX superleague would represent a huge opportunity for multinational companies like Adidas and AT&T…

The Campeones Cup (@CampeonesCup), held in September between Toronto FC of MLS and Tigres UANL of Liga MX, can be seen as a direct manifestation of the same spirit of partnership that made The United Bid possible. Tigres won by a 301 count in Toronto, and while the building was half-full, the blueprint for future on-field matches of consequence was set.

“We think this opportunity with the World Cup in 2026 opens the door for us to make a lot of things different and better,” added Bonilla.

“We have been discussing with Liga MX additional ways we can collaborate on and off the field,” said MLS executive Dan Courtemanche at the same event. “We are excited about the future opportunities that exist between our two leagues.”

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.

So what would a combined North American professional soccer organization look like, beyond the Campeones Cup? Liga MX, which has been in existence for more than seven decades, is currently comprised of 18 teams across Mexico, and MLS, which began competition in 1996, comprises 20 U.S. and 3 Canadian sides. 41 clubs would seem to be an unwieldy number, but fans who follow college sports here know that “Power 5” schools, the largest NCAA programs, total more than 60 schools, each with huge fan bases over a diverse combined footprint.

For marketers, there may be some initial negotiation to be done with exclusive sponsors, at least until current deals expire, on both the MLS and Liga MX ends. But in the same way that partners will be working with CONCACAF (@Concacafand the combined North American entity for World Cup, the MLS-Liga MX superleague would represent a huge opportunity for multinational companies like Adidas (@adidasand AT&T (@ATT), which have official partnerships with both leagues, and any of a dozen beverages, airlines and banks that could gain a foothold across the continent in one fell swoop. Not to mention what a Fox Sports, ESPN or NBC/Telemundo could do to attract broadcast advertisers for such a wide-ranging organization.

Some U.S. fans, their own squad not qualifying for World Cup, took to rooting for Mexico last summer. It would be in that spirit: a bold move, one which would have dozens of moving parts and would require concessions and copious amounts of cooperation and faith from both ends to make a reality. But sometimes the sum of the parts is greater than the whole; getting huge organizations, with layers of politics and red tape to fight through, to subscribe to that concept might be too big an obstacle to overcome. But fans of the superleague can always dream.

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What: Puerto Rican Football Federation has signed former Honduran star Amado Guevara to rebuild the soccer program.
Why it matters: The soccer program is attempting to gain international success as the island rebuilds from the damage left behind by Hurricane Maria.

As a former captain of the Honduran national soccer team (@FenafuthOrg), Amado Guevara (@AmadoGuevara20) has taken on many challenges throughout his soccer career, including leading the team to a 2010 World Cup appearance.

But none of those obstacles are as great as the one he is currently battling in the Caribbean. As the new head coach of the Puerto Rican national team (@FutbolPR), Guevara has an immense task ahead of him.

Forget the fact that the commonwealth island has never had the talent to participate in a FIFA World Cup or CONCACAF Gold Cup. Puerto Rico is still recovering from the devastation left behind Hurricane Maria.

Amado Guevara, the former Honduran national team captain who previously played with Toronto FC, was signed in July by the Puerto Rican Football Federation to coach the men’s soccer team.

Despite claims of great success in rebuilding the island, by the Trump Administration, Puerto Rico’s recovery has been slow and inconsistent. Hurricane Maria left behind $90 million worth of damage, according to the Financial Oversight and Management Board for Puerto Rico, while a George Washington University Milken Institute School of Public Health (@GWpublichealth) study estimates that almost 3000 people died as a result of the natural disaster.

“We are happy, first for the work that has been done, and for the invitation that they made to be part of this project, but above all the idea is to work, work and work,” said Guevara to Honduran publication El Nuevo Dia (@ElNuevoDia). “That is the philosophy. Try to reach the objectives that we want to achieve. The first one we have set is the Nations Cup.”

The CONCACAF (@Concacaf) Nations Cup is the inaugural tournament used as qualifiers for the newly expanded CONCACAF Gold Cup tournament. Puerto Rico has been grouped with Saint Kitts and Nevis (@SKNFA_), Martinique (@LFM972_officiel), Belize (@bzefootballfed) and Grenada (@GrenadaFootball).

“I think it’s a really good idea,” said Guevara of the tournament. “The only way to get better is to play competitive matches and now players from all nations can develop more and grow as footballers.”

Guevara has had a rough start to his coaching career. Puerto Rico lost to Saint Kitts and Nevis 1-0 on the road, in September. The squad followed that up with a 1-0 loss to Martinique, in an emotional home match for the Puerto Rican national team, who were making their return to Estadio Juan Ramón Loubriel.

Estadio Juan Ramón Loubriel, a baseball stadium converted into a soccer-specific venue, is the home field of the national team that was battered by Hurricane Maria. The Puerto Rican Football Federation charged fans free admission for the October match against Martinique for their team’s first home game since their 2017 Caribbean Cup Third Round qualifier against Curaçao (@FutbolCuracao).

“He lost his debut as the Puerto Rico coach versus Martinique but just the fact that a guy like him wanted to be there is pretty important for that team,” said ESPN Mexico correspondent Tony Alvarez (@Tonyar27).

Though beisbol may be king on La Isla del Encanto, Puerto Rico does have 76 years of soccer history. Not great history, but history nonetheless. Since playing their inaugural 1-1 draw against Cuba, in 1940, Puerto Rico spent the next 30 years winless, until a 3-0 victory over the Bahamas, in 1979.

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.

The program failed to build on that success, winning sporadically against teams such teams as the Bahamas, the Dominican Republic, and Martinique before going through a 17-year winless drought between 1995 through 2007.

Eric Labrador, president of the Puerto Rican Football Federation, sees the signing of Guevara as a key component in kickstarting the soccer program to a different level.

“It’s very important because this is going to change the way we do soccer in Puerto Rico,” said Labrador to Honduran newspaper El Nuevo Dia.

Guevara does bring some bench experience to the Puerto Rican locker room, having worked with Jorge Luis Pinto as part of the coaching staff of the Honduran national team that fell a game short of qualifying into the 2018 World Cup.

He lost his debut as the Puerto Rico coach versus Martinique but just the fact that a guy like him wanted to be there is pretty important for that team

“Amado feels like he has learned a lot from Jorge Luis Pinto and that he’s ready for the challenge,” said José A. Rodríguez (@Jarm21), editor-in-chief for Deporte Total USA. “He is very well prepared and it’s now time to go on and prove that he can lead a team as a coach like he did for many years as a player. The positive side of things is basically that he is working without any pressure but his own.”

Despite being a rookie coach, Puerto Rican Football Federation officials are hoping that Guevara’s vast experience as captain of the Honduran national team, as well as his stints with Major League Soccer‘s (@MLS) New York Red Bulls (@NewYorkRedBulls), Toronto FC (@torontofc) and the defunct Chivas USA, as well as Honduran powerhouse Club Motagua (@MOTAGUAcom), can change the culture of the entire program.

“He can implement that knowledge he acquired during his playing days and try to create a good and successful system for his coaching career, starting with a small group of guys that dedicate themselves to others things but that can build a foundation for his own success come the near future,” said Alvarez.

While Guevara is excited about the challenges currently in front of him, he has made no secret he is interested in someday coaching the Honduran national team. Guevara is hoping that a successful stint in Puerto Rico may help him land the Honduran coaching job, down the road.

“Considering that he’s aiming to be the coach of his home country Honduras, even though it is a difficult situation going on in the island so far, you can say that anything good that he can do will be well seen by the people in the [Honduran] office,” said Alvarez. “If you see the big picture, he doesn’t have many resources to be successful, therefore if he can make them go the Gold Cup and get some wins in friendly matches, it’s ok. And if he can’t, nobody will say anything bad about his job because he has not much to work with.”

For his part, while Guevara dreams of coaching Los Catrachos, Puerto Rico’s coach is fully focused on his new career and the task at hand of changing the culture of the island’s soccer program.

“You have to manage more things,” said Guevara. “As a player, you only worry about playing. Coaching is different, but it is everything that I expected and I’m enjoying it.”

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What: Portada New York included two sports marketing panels, featuring Portada Sports Marketing Board member and Allstate Director Consumer Marketing-Sponsorships, Daniel Keats, Comcast’s Hispanic Marketing Director Alejandro Solorio, Michael Neuman, EVP, Managing Partner, Scout Sports and Entertainment and Jon Patricof, president of the New York City Football Club.
Why it matters: Even though soccer is yet growing in the United States, marketers need to take advantage of the sports business potential of the event; the #PortadaNY panels offered interesting insights on the opportunities to look out for.

Tuesday may have been a dark and rainy day in New York, but it was filled with several bright moments around the business of soccer and engagement, especially with the Latino community.
Portada New York included a morning session centered on this past summer’s World Cup and the various ways brands, whether they were official partners or not, found ways to both engage and grow their soccer involvement. Portada Sports Marketing board member and Allstate (@AllstateDirector of Sports Marketing Daniel Keats and Comcast’s (@comcastHispanic Marketing Director Alejandro Solorio offered their thoughts in a great discussion.

Some key takeaways

Mexico fans at World Cup 2018 Credit: Soccer.ru

The passion of soccer in the U,S, is still evolving; you didn’t have to be a World Cup brand to realize the sports business potential of the event. We were not, yet we were able to find ways through our work with the Mexican National Team to take advantage of their success and expand our reach. We believe our programs are going to yield great benefits over time as we build the fan and consumer for life.” – Daniel Keats, Director Consumer Marketing-Sponsorships, Allstate Insurance

“Our investment in soccer is for the long-term, starting at the grassroots with programs like LIGA MX and Alianza de futbol, which creates professional and college opportunities for young Latino players. We think this is the right way to engage the Latino consumer, especially the family, over an extended period and will see our return over time.” – Daniel Keats, Director Consumer Marketing-Sponsorships, Allstate Insurance

All in all the message was clear for the morning: brands and media companies have found a path that works for them…

Solorio talked at length about Comcast’s technical innovations using video and data in the mobile space during the World Cup to provide custom viewing experiences for fans, but more importantly he was adamant that investing in the sport means establishing touch points not just around one massive event, but throughout the year.

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.

Soccer needs to be seen as a strategy not a tactic, you have to be immersed in the sport if you want to be seen as authentic, whether you are speaking to an Anglo or Latino consumer.” – Alejandro Solorio, Hispanic Marketing Director, Comcast Corporation

All in all the message was clear for the morning: brands and media companies have found a path that works for them, and it takes them right to the heart of the fastest growing demo in the U.S., the increasingly affluent and always engaged Latino consumer.

NYCFC grows its brand proactively

In a discussion between NYCFC President Jon Patricof and Michael Neuman, EVP, Managing Partner at Scout Sports and Entertainment, a division of Horizon Media (and Portada Sports Marketing Board member), the growth of NYCFC as a property in the crowded marketplace was quite evident. Not only is the club growing as it again heads towards the MLS Playoffs, but it is being a proactive leader in soccer in North America.

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Some key thoughts from Patricof:

Michael Neuman and Jon Patricof

The idea of relegation is somewhat overblown. If you look at the success of teams in the USL,  the teams that do well are getting the chance to move up to MLS which is the most important thing if you are a brand that is looking for growth.”

“We know that there are four million soccer fans in the New York area. Of the four million, only 280,000 we have identified as fans of NYCFC. Our job is to help convert the rest of that audience to engage with our team and brand. Once we have them at our matches at Yankee Stadium, we can convert them, but that takes time.”

“Soccer is at a very dynamic moment in time with regard to access. What the NFL, the NBA and other leagues have done is give the media and fans access to learn about the personalities of their Teams. That has not traditionally been done with our sport. As part of City Football, we are changing that. We create great content and events that tell the stories of our players and we give access to fans. It’s the best way to convert savvy soccer fans to join us, and we know that once they get that access they will stay for life.”

Are there still challenges ahead for all those who spoke on Tuesday? For sure, The uncertainty of where US Soccer is going, even with a World Cup coming to North America in 2026, as well as the continued fluidity of MLS (@MLS) (especially as NYCFC (@NYCFCstills searches  for a permanent home), as well as the increased presence of elite European clubs om the business environment in the US present some dark clouds for all, but for the most part, soccer remains a growth property in the U.S., and the ways brands, teams, media companies and even leagues will find ways to engage is still on the upswing. And provided some great learning experiences for all in attendance at Portada New York.


What: The leaders of FIFA and U.S. Soccer Federation met with the President to discuss 2026 World Cup plans.
Why it matters: Though largely ceremonial, the meeting was important in supporting the growth of the sport here.

There may be no more political sport than the global game of football, and there may be no more politicized sport in the United States than American football (@NFL).

This week, the global game reminded us that if it is to keep growing here, having the buy-in of the most important office in the world will be a help.

FIFA president Gianni Infantino and U.S. Soccer Federation president Carlos Cordeiro (@CACSoccervisited President Donald Trump to talk about plans for bringing the 2026 World Cup (@FIFAWorldCup) to North America, a massive global business event that will always need the support of government, no matter who sits in the Oval Office when the Games arrive.

…[F]ootball, the global game, continues to flourish in America, especially among the growing Latino demographic, with much brighter days ahead for the game as it matures in the United States.

“I would definitely like to see that soccer in the U.S. is becoming one of the top sports, not the No. 5,” Infantino told The Washington Post and SI.com on Tuesday. “You have to transform this country into a soccer country … What I want to see is the U.S. league, the U.S. national team, the U.S. youth development structures, boys and girls, being part of the top three in the world.”

The 2026 tournament will be one of unprecedented scale: three host nations, 48 teams, 80 games and 16 venues. So work has to start early, and although Tuesday’s Oval Office event was mostly one of celebration, commemoration and gratitude (Trump’s promises regarding access and visas were key during the buildup to the June vote), there was a bit of logistical and political talk.

A lot of those logistics and commitments require legislation, Cordeiro added. Although Trump won’t be in office in 2026, Cordeiro added, “It’s the signature of the president of the day, and it outlives any individual. It’s the commitment of the country.”

While there was probably little talk of the trade wars waging between Washington and its allies to the north and south these days, it is clear that the business of soccer will need great support to flourish, and the start off stamp of approval to move things along in Washington, a city which has just seen the new home of the D.C. United (@dcunited) (Audi Field) unveiled with great fanfare, is very encouraging as a next step, not just for World Cup, but for MLS and the business of soccer in general.

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There are currently are 17 venues in the USA, three in Canada and three in Mexico in contention to make the final cut. That should be decided by the end of 2020. There will be 60 games in the USA and 10 each in Mexico and Canada. MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J., is the favorite to host the final.

There was certainly no talk of “Take A Knee,” the issue which has polarized American football and the White House, and continues to create issues off the field for the NFL, still the most popular and effective sport in terms of business across America. Despite recent reports of some declining youth numbers, football, the global game, continues to flourish in America, especially among the growing Latino demographic, with much brighter days ahead for the game as it matures in the United States.

While this week’s visit was more ceremonial, it presents a great step forward for all those stakeholders involved in the sport in America, politics kicked aside.

What: A new study by the Sports & Fitness Industry Association, as reported by the New York Times, notes that youth soccer participation is down 14%.
Why it matters: It’s an alarming number, one of which soccer industry leaders are aware and are looking at ways to turn around; playing rather than just watching is a key element to long-term fandom.

There was a time not too long ago when all those monitoring trends for growth in sport at the youth level saw the demise of football coming, while a handful of sports, most notably soccer, were on a meteoric rise. Some day, the theory went, “The Beautiful Game” of football would surpass “The American Game” of football in popularity, and soccer would assume its place in North America like it has in the rest of the world.

According to a story in the New York Times based on the latest Sports & Fitness Industry Association numbers, soccer, at least at the youth level, has hit a staggering and unexpected decline. According to Joe Drape, “Over the past three years, the percentage of 6- to 12-year-olds playing soccer regularly has dropped nearly 14 percent, to 2.3 million players, according to a study by the Sports & Fitness Industry Association, (@TheSFIAwhich has analyzed youth athletic trends for 40 years. The number of children who touched a soccer ball even once during the year, in organized play or otherwise, also has fallen significantly” with losses in participation of as many as 600,000 youth players.

The question remains whether that will translate down to young people, especially youth and minorities of all backgrounds, playing soccer.

As U.S. Soccer (@ussoccergoes through its leadership change now under Carlos Cordeiro (@CACSoccer), the World Cup starts to come on the horizon for 2026 in North America, and brands continue invest in marketing the sport and scores of elite non-U.S. clubs open academies here to better develop young players, the sport, it seems, has hit a new turning point, with Latino youth and overall engagement amongst that demo the place where the sport can point to changing.

The best news coming out of the World Cup were the rising numbers in engagement by Latinos across America throughout the games, while Mexico’s value as a brand was buoyed by its success on the field and the expansion of its brand partners into the marketplace. Also as we wrote last week, brands found the way to engage better than ever in the social space, with the digital engagement company Mitú (@wearemitucreating unique content around both the Spanish and English speaking Latino fan. Moreover, Liga MX remains the most watched soccer league across the U.S., all of which is very positive in showing Latino engagement through soccer.

In the coming weeks, many of the world’s elite clubs will be coming to the United States, and La Liga will be making an even bigger push to expose their teams and their partners, not just FC Barcelona and Real Madrid, to thousands of casual and die hard soccer fans for the remainder of the summer.

While all that is positive, and gives a clear path of engagement for the longer run from a fan and viewership for the Latino demo, the question remains whether that will translate down to young people, especially youth and minorities of all backgrounds, playing soccer which gives them more of a lifelong affinity to the game. The Times’ story points to several factors related to the Sports & Fitness Industry Association study that indicate that a change needs to be made in the marketing and engagement of young Latinos for that to happen.

Brad Rothenberg, who co-founded Alianza de Futbol (@alianzadefutbolto develop amateur soccer among Latinos, said U.S. Soccer had invested little in identifying talent in Latino and African-American communities, the story added. Over the past decade, his organization has held more than 300 events across the country for young players and has sent dozens of them to club teams in Mexico.

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Brad Rothenberg

“If year after year, at every decision point, U.S. Soccer continues to alienate Latinos and blacks, we are going to sit on the sidelines and watch the rest of the world get better,” Rothenberg, who co-founded Alianza de Futbol to develop amateur soccer among Latinos told The Times.

Cost for elite play, as pointed out by longtime American star Hope Solo at a Hashtag Sports event in New York a few weeks ago, also factors into the lack of engagement in Latinos and minorities. Solo was clear in calling out soccer’s organizing groups for being too elitist and not being able to make the game affordable for all, which narrows the pipeline for success.

Now, will USA Soccer, and other global clubs step into that void to turn the engagement level for young people, especially Latinos who continue to show an affinity for the game? The opening of academies for elite players is a small step which will build American star power, but having casual players engaged in healthy activity and understanding the game as they play on the field vs. watching on a device or television is another critical step. Are there brands that will look more and more to the youth level to engage, as Toyota and Allstate have done with Alianza de Futbol?

Other sports like baseball and basketball, have seen and made the investment in youth participation in recent years, and the study has seen that efforts produce positive results. Soccer apparently needs to find that next step to reverse a troubling trend, and the numbers and the results show that the Latino fan can be the next best step.

The World Cup gave us great best practices for engagement and value in the demo, now leadership needs to take those best practices and add dollars and value to build not just young Latino stars for elite clubs and MLS, but healthy engaged young players for life. Soccer at its base is a simple, affordable game; not investing properly, however, can prove to be costly, and the numbers bear that out.

Cover Image: Derek Jensen (Tysto)

What: Mitú has carved out a niche in the social space, helping brands leverage the World Cup to engage millennial Latinos.
Why it matters: The example set by Mitú at World Cup can serve as a template or at least a starting point for brands to connect with Hispanics through grand-scale sporting events.

Mexico fans at World Cup 2018 Credit: Soccer.ru

When the final goal is scored and the trophy awarded for this World Cup (@FIFAWorldCup), what will marketers and brands look back on as a measure for success in North America, especially with the U.S. and Canada not qualifying, and even some of the biggest Latino countries expected to deliver going out as late as the quarterfinals?

One thing we believe marketers will point to is the bounce gotten from the Latino audience, one which continues to grow and have a larger share of voice, be it in English or Spanish in the U.S. We saw the leverage Soccer United Marketing exploited through Mexico’s run, finding ways for brands to engage fans both of El Tri (@miseleccionmxENand those following the event in general, and media partners covering the games fully recognized the growth of engagement across all platforms with a targeted Latino audience that has been hard to quantify by risk averse media buyers before.

What they have done with platforms like Netflix they can do even more effectively with sports, and the World Cup represents a great best practice that can now spill over into the NFL, MLB, MLS and others like NASCAR

Another area that has seen growth has been the social space, and that is where another company has been able to show brands the way to effectively and successfully engage with the Latino demo during the games, and set a path for success going forward not just in soccer, but in all areas of sport.

The company is Mitú (@wearemitu), and its focus on delivering Latino millennials to brands exclusively through social continues to see a payoff as the games in Russia reach their end. The philosophy is a simple one: create branded content that is authentic and very targeted to the interests and engagement habits of young Latinos and open a window for those companies to create brand loyalty and a conversation on social just for that audience.

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The results for companies like Fox (@FOXSports), Toyota (@Toyota), Wendy’s (@Wendysand Jack in the Box (@JackBox ‏) have been very promising, with millions of impressions and sharing across Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and other social media platforms that could and should lead to more success down the road when World Cup is just a memory.

Mitú engages its audience through a Latino POV, representing the “200 percent” of youth who identify themselves as 100% American and 100% Latino. Mitú elevates and celebrates Latino stories, audiences and talent, putting them front and center in American pop culture. What they have done with platforms like Netflix they can do even more effectively with sports, and the World Cup represents a great best practice that can now spill over into the NFL, MLB, MLS and others like NASCAR, all major properties that crave a young audience, have had challenges engaging and retaining millennials, and need and want to show their brand partners even more of an ROI than ever before.

Herb Scannell

“Mitu represents the fastest growing and most influential demo in the U.S. today in Latino Millennials. With the U.S. not in this World Cup, smart brands like Toyota, Wendy’s, Jack in the Box, and obviously Fox Sports, realized they needed to reach our audience and engage them with content that is authentic and in-culture,” said CEO Herb Scannell (@herbscannelllast week. “They turned to us to create it for them. By engaging Latinos, these brands will be rewarded long after the tournament is over.”

While there was great angst from those looking toward the World Cup when the U.S. failed to qualify, the reality that settled in was pretty clear; now is the time to attach to and grow the Latino sports fan, be he or she a parent or an engaged digital savvy teen, and do it in the format that he or she is used to consuming. Even though it is still a work in progress it is clear that the takeaway from the past few weeks is that Latinos are engaged and brand loyal, and now there are quantifiable results with content that can be used for best practices for brands going forward. Maybe it would have been a bigger bonanza if 2018 was the coming out for young American stars on the field, but the real stars, the engaged consumer, especially the Latino ones, are starting to shine more, and companies like Mitu have really started to light that path for the future.

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Cover image: Wikimedia/Fadesga

What: Argentina and Colombia will battle in East Rutherford, N.J., on Sept. 11 as part of a series of international soccer matches in the U.S. this summer into the fall.
Why it matters: These events can follow on the heels of the excitement of World Cup competition, albeit seven or more time zones away and without the U.S. represented, and successful United 2026 bid to boost the sport for fans and marketers here moving forward.

Argentina (@afaand Colombia (@FCFSeleccionColare on through their respective Groups to the knockout phase at 2018 FIFA World Cup, who along with Mexico, Uruguay and Brazil leave five Latin American teams still alive in the hunt for the trophy. And while they have bigger things on their collective minds right now, the squads will also compete in a match on September 11 at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J., which while it won’t have the same stakes on the field, will have an important role in keeping the sport top of mind, particularly among the fervent Hispanic fan base in the region.

CMN Sports (@CMNEventsand Relevent (@C_Stillitano), two firms committed to boosting the sport in the U.S., announced the matchup this week, as well as Monday’s on-sale opportunity.

The success of events like these will go a long way in determining how much the World Cup, minus the U.S., Canada and traditional favorite Italy, will have boosted interest in the sport here.

“We’re delighted to partner with Relevent and look forward to hosting this match,” said Henry Cárdenas, President of CMN Sports, in a statement. “Argentina is a powerhouse, loaded with impressive talent, while Colombia has shown enormous potential during this World Cup. We hope fans will enjoy this South American rivalry in a post-World Cup celebration.”

Along with the International Champions Cup (July 20-August 12) , which will feature the top international club teams numerous U.S. cities with large Latino populations like New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Philadelphia, Miami and more, international soccer will maintain a strong presence in the U.S. with friendlies featuring Colombia vs. Venezuela in Miami and Argentina vs. Guatemala in Los Angeles, both on Sept. 7.

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Colombia jersey (Futbolero)

“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.

The success of events like these will go a long way in determining how much the World Cup, minus the U.S., Canada and traditional favorite Italy, will have boosted interest in the sport here. The successful United 2026 World Cup bid “won the press conference,” but it will take a sustained effort to keep the momentum rolling to benefit MLS, the U.S. National Team and World Cup preparation for fans and marketers alike.

Cover Image: credit: Oleg Bkhambri (Voltmetro)

What: love.fútbol is a non-profit that mobilizes and engages communities to plan, build, manage, activate and redefine their own football pitches as sustainable platforms for social change.
Why it matters: World Cup is the perfect time for organizations like love.fútbol to connect with global brands to spread their messages and maximize their visibility.

We have seen the impact “The Beautiful Game” has on communities big and small, especially around World Cup this month. How can one create bigger initiatives tied to soccer, from the grassroots to the biggest stars, whether the Cup is glowing or not? That’s where love.fútbol (@lovefutbolhas thrived.

We wanted to learn more about the organization’s mission, its origins and its success that continues to evolve, so we asked co-founder and CEO Drew Chafetz (@DrewChafetzto tell the story.

Portada-Online: What was the genesis of love.fútbol as a brand?

Drew Chafetz: “The idea for love.fútbol was conceived in December 2005 while traveling through a small town in central Morocco. I came across a small group of young children playing soccer in a back alleyway that had a dangerous canal running lengthwise through their makeshift pitch. I have been very grateful in my life to soccer and the inherent benefits that playing the game gave me, and had been fortunate to travel extensively as a child connecting with kids my age through the game. For the first time it occurred to me that children might not have a safe place to go to play soccer. This simple game is a fundamental opportunity for youth around the world and ensuring it is the premise of our mission and organization.

The love.fútbol brand stands for the global connection we have through passion for soccer. Across languages, cultures, religions, economics, race and all else that may divide us, there are universal mediums of self-expression – like sport, art, music and dance – that remind us of our shared humanity. The “dot” in our name represents this global connection we have through soccer, and more expansively through sport, but also serves as a pivot point to embrace and represent other mediums of self-expression that bond us.”

Portada: Where have you seen the greatest impact?

Drew Chafetz

D.C.: “The communities we serve drive love.fútbol sports infrastructure projects. As a result, the greatest impact we see comes from community engagement. On average, locals invest 2,500 volunteer hours to make each safe space a reality. As a result, spaces become tangible symbols of collective strength and success for the community and the impact is much further reaching. Sports spaces become centers of community that host long-term youth development programs through partnerships with local NGOs, diverse events and activities, and can include multiple revenue streams to sustain the space and programs through social enterprise.”

To play and have passion is a fundamental opportunity to connect with oneself, one’s community and the world.

Portada: The Latino fan base is going to be key in the US for World Cup growth, why is it so powerful, and untapped, by sports business in the US?

D.C.: “Regardless of where you go, brands must find a way to connect with consumers on an emotional level, which often means making impact on the community level. There is great need for community sports spaces in lower-income communities across Central and South America, as well as at home here in the USA. Sport can help us make these connections to original and second-generation immigrant communities that are deeply connected to their home countries, but living in the USA.”

Portada: How can and do brands tie to your programs?

D.C.: “Since 2010, brands such as ESPN (@espn), Coca-Cola (@CocaCola), Unilever (@Unilever), Under Armour (@UnderArmour), UEFA (@UEFAand Manchester City (@ManCity), have sponsored love.fútbol projects around the world. We align social impact and a more sustainable approach to the development of sports facilities with priority markets of our brand partners. Sponsors benefit from enhanced PR and community relations, unique storytelling and content, and a turnkey opportunity to engage local offices, employees and stakeholders as active partners in each project. For example, hundreds of ESPN employee volunteers from local offices in Rio, Buenos Aires, São Paulo, Mexico City, Bogotá and Bangalore have gotten their hands dirty alongside locals on community build days.”

Portada: You have many examples of how soccer has changed the lives of young people through your program; give us one or two examples.

D.C.: “Together with ESPN, love.fútbol has built multi-sport courts in six communities across three continents and mobilized more than 1,280 community members who contributed over 7,600 volunteer hours to the projects. These spaces are used every day and benefit close to 6,000 children and young adults, and indirectly their families. In each community, local NGOs were trained to deliver long-term programs using sport to teach life and job skills delivered to 1,237 youth, 68% of whom graduated from the program, and a majority of which went onto gain employment or further their formal education.

We are happy to share a full impact report with any interested parties.”

Portada: Why is sport, especially soccer, such a powerful element in positively impacting lives?

D.C.: “With more than three billion fans, soccer is the world’s most popular sport and is deeply embedded within the culture of communities across the globe. The game’s great strength is its simplicity — that it can be played almost anywhere, allowing children to be creative and play despite sometimes highly challenging circumstances around them. To play and have passion is a fundamental opportunity to connect with oneself, one’s community and the world.

Beyond the inherent health and life skills benefits of playing sports, such as teamwork, leadership and discipline, sport has great power to serve as a hook for grabbing people’s attention and energy that can then be channeled in new directions. In our sector of sport for social development, myriad social impact outcomes are delivered through curriculum-based programs that focus on health education, job training, peacebuilding, gender equality, and helping the homeless get themselves back on their feet, to name a few examples. A sports space with community ownership can be used to address any given community’s most pressing social needs.”

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Portada: How can you use the power of the World Cup to grow your efforts?

D.C.: “Soccer gives us a lot and throughout the world people are grateful. We believe there is no clearer way to give back to the game than provide youth the opportunity to play. The World Cup is the pinnacle opportunity for the ecosystem of sport, business and society to come together around this ideal. We work with players, fans and brands to raise awareness, sponsor projects and build community through sport. love.fútbol was named as an official partner of the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, so we are excited to play a more formal role in four years!”

Portada: Where do you think love.fútbol can be in say, three years, as an element of social change?

D.C.: “love.fútbol is the global leader in mobilizing and empowering communities to create sustainable sports spaces as platforms for long-term social change. Right now, we are working to scale our methodology to reach more communities and strengthen our leadership role in the sport for development sector through helping organizations reach more youth with their programs. Every neighborhood around the world stands to benefit from the power of sport – we aspire to help communities reach this potential.”

Cover image: love.fútbol inauguration day festivities in El Coyolito, Mexico City, with project sponsor Manchester City

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

  • Las Vegas Lights FCUSL team Las Vegas Lights extended its deal with bookmaker William Hill as a sponsor to promote the team’s Nevada mobile betting platform to fans. Lights fans will also be able to activate their own mobile sports account at William Hill syndicated sports betting properties across Nevada.
  • Hyundai and Italian soccer club Atletico Madrid signed a new partnership, which will run until 2021. The South Korean car manufacturer will replace Alfa Romeo as the team’s automotive sponsor. The company will provide cars for the club, and their logo will be placed on the team’s shirt sleeves. Hyundai has also signed a similar partnership with English Premier League club Chelsea.
  • Oculus has been streaming some of FIFA World Cup matches in virtual reality (VR) for free. Starting with Sunday’s face-off between Mexico and Germany, Facebook-owned Oculus will stream four games via its social co-viewing app Oculus Venues. Matches include Portugal vs. Morocco on June 20, Brazil vs. Costa Rica on June 22 and England vs. Panama on June 24.

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  • The Laughing Cow®The Laughing Cow has been named as the official snack cheese sponsor of the 2018 Kick It 3v3 National Tour. The National Soccer hosts over 70 events per year.
  • The American Youth Soccer Organization (AYSO) and BAND locked a sponsorship agreement to bring BAND’s communications and management app to AYSO’s National Office and youth soccer teams. The goal is to enhance their organization and communication. “AYSO is pleased to announce our new partnership with BAND. By helping to adopt BAND, we expect to help build stronger communications through its rich features. We are excited to bring this opportunity to coaches to help them communicate more efficiently with parents and other AYSO volunteers,” stated Yvonne Lara, AYSO’s Director of Marketing and Communications.
  • NBCSN televised its first-ever FIFA World Cup match in Spanish last Sunday, June 17, when Brazil faced Switzerland. The match was simulcast in Spanish from Telemundo and livestreamed in Spanish via the Telemundo Deportes En Vivo and NBC Sports apps.

What: The joint bid by the U.S., Canada and Mexico won the right to host 2026 FIFA World Cup, via voting results announced on Wednesday morning in Russia as World Cup kicks off this week.
Why it matters: In short, for millions of reasons. Especially with the U.S. and Canada not qualifying for this year’s event, this vote was critical to the future of soccer in North America. Dignitaries worldwide had plenty to say about the result.

It only took one vote on Wednesday morning in Russia, both sides issuing their final arguments as Morocco and the U.S., Canada and Mexico joint bid (@united2026quickly learned their fate after years of preparation. In the end, it was the United 2026 plan that secured the victory and right to host FIFA World Cup 2026 by a significant margin (two thirds of the electorate); the 16 host cities in the three nations are now on the clock for kickoff eight years from now.

“Thank you for the incredible privilege,” proclaimed U.S. Soccer (@ussoccerPresident Carlos Cordeiro (@CACSoccerto the FIFA contingent once the results were announced. “Football today is the only victor. We are all united in football.”

Every little kid who is 10 years old and says, ‘I want to play in that World Cup 10 years from now’ — well, why can’t they?

Here is a sampling of what Cordeiro and others said following the vote, the result of which means that 2026 will mark the first successful bid by three host nations:

Cordeiro: “I make the argument that we are a vast, powerful, wealthy nation, but we have haves and have-nots, and our disenfranchised are underserved, and in many ways these are the people with whom the sport resonates most. If we can bring them into the game, we’ll go from 4 million to 12 million participants. Every little kid who is 10 years old and says, ‘I want to play in that World Cup 10 years from now’ — well, why can’t they?”

Jason De Vos, Director of Development, Canada Soccer, via Twitter (@jasondevos): “To represent your country on home soil in a FIFA World Cup is the highest honour. It’s an historic day.”

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@LIGABancomerMX, via Twitter: Por tercera vez la pasión encuentra su hogar. Nadie vive el futbol como en México. #Mundial2026 ¡¡¡¡Tenemos Mundial!!! (tr: For the third time, passion finds its home. Nobody lives football like in Mexico. #Mundial2026 We have a World Cup !!!)

Morocco Football Federation president Fouzi Lekjaa: “I wish to congratulate Fifa for the conduct of this process and congratulate the president for what he has done in order to move things towards more transparency and more inclusion. I would like to reaffirm the determination of my country to continue to work for football and realise one day our dream to host the World Cup in Morocco.”

The Football Association (FA/English Football): “We congratulate the USA, Canada and Mexico on winning the bid to host the 2026 Fifa World Cup. Both bids were of a very high quality and we welcome the fact that the bidding process was both open and transparent.

FA: “We cast our vote for the ‘United’ bid as we believe the independent technical assessment made its advantages very clear. However, it is important to note that both bids were deemed to have met the hosting requirements and a tournament in Morocco, close to Europe and in a country that loves football, had a great deal for English football fans to be excited about.”

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

  • Samsung Electronics90min announced new partnerships with Budweiser, Hyundai, Right Guard, Listerine, Caliente, Samsung and BOSS Fragrance for its World Cup content. For the deal, the soccer–specialized website will use fan reporters to write on-the-ground stories from Russia, it will also provide street-level video reporting that focuses on the fan journey, the fan culture in Russia and the “combustion moments that happen on and off-the-pitch.
  • Telemundo and Google announced a partnership to bring Telemundo’s Spanish-language World Cup content to Google and YouTube for soccer fans across the US. For the first time ever, World Cup fans searching on Google for their favorite teams, matches, and scores in Spanish in the US will see close to real-time video highlights from Telemundo Deportes. In addition, the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia games on Telemundo will be offered in markets where YouTube TV is available.
  • Amazon locked a three-year deal to broadcast live Premier League matches and weekly highlights packages on its Prime Video service in the UK, starting with the 2019-20 season. This marks the first time that Premier League TV rights have been acquired by a non-traditional broadcaster.

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  • BudweiserFIFA, partnered with Budweiser and Twitter to make it easier for fans to vote for the Man of the Match Award during the 2018 FIFA World Cup. The new Twitter voting platforms will offer an enhanced visual voting portal and will update to include active players on the pitch. When voting concludes, @FIFAWorldCup will tweet the name of the winner.
  • The National Women’s Soccer League announced that ESPN will telecast six NWSL Games of the Week on ESPNEWS throughout the remainder of the season. By doing this, the ESPN will replace the previously scheduled games on Lifetime. All six nationally televised games will be slated for evening kickoffs.
  • The Canadian Premier League has added Valour FC as one of the founding clubs set to play in Canada’s new professional men’s soccer league in the spring of 2019, plating out of Investors Group Field.
  • FIFA signed its first 2018 World Cup sponsor from Africa, agreeing to a deal with the government of Egypt. “Egypt – Experience & Invest” – a campaign which FIFA says aims to showcase the “wide spectrum of tourism experiences and investment potential Egypt has to offer” – fills the first of four African slots in a program for third-tier commercial deals. FIFA has now 20 sponsors of the 34 places in its 2018 World Cup commercial program.
  • Telemundo Deportes’s En Vivo App will include a custom emoji keyboard during the FIFA World Cup, in partnership with Sportsmania.

What: Comcast this week announced a bilingual video experience integrating Fox and Telemundo World Cup coverage.
Why it matters: This will be a great test for soccer fans who may have had to turn down the volume and follow their favorite brands when the language, especially Spanish, did not fit the household.

We inch closer to the World Cup starting June 14, and the power of the Multicultural audience in the U.S. as a driver continues to come into focus even more. Both the Spanish language and English first Latino sports consumer is going to be a key driver in ROI for a global event that is heavy on Latin American nations and short on countries like the U.S. and Canada, and while FOX maintains that the “melting pot” mentality, where the Anglo consumer will build an affinity around the country from where he or she ultimately immigrated from, will be key, it is clear that Latino engagement is essential for success.

Latest case in point came Wednesday, when Comcast’s Xfinity X1 (@Xfinitycable platform announced a bilingual FIFA World Cup viewing experience, with video features that integrate both Fox’s and Telemundo’s coverage of the June 14-July 15 tournament in Russia.

Screens, menus and voice commands will be available in both English and Spanish, with full-game replays, highlights, web video, real-time analytics and on-screen stats rounding out the experience. Also, Xfinity for the first time is adding sports notifications for TV and mobile. It will be a great test for fans of the sport who may have had to turn down the volume and follow their favorite brands when the language, especially Spanish, did not fit the household.

No matter what the language, quality live sports remain king, and platforms like this can unite audience numbers, rather than divide them.

Now of course we have had SAP as an element in broadcast across the U.S. for most events for years, but this integration is a new next step for those who want to dial back and forth and immerse either in their adopted or their native language. If it works, and brands find scale, it can roll out to other sports, especially MLB and the NBA, and it can be a new and important engagement for brands who have struggled to find the common ground with Latino sports engagement in a multilingual environment.

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Comcast Cable Exec Dir of Product Management Jason Angelides told Sports Business Daily that international events like the World Cup highlight the “changing demographics of TV viewing audiences — particularly underscoring the increasingly important and growing base of bicultural households in the U.S.” — and X1 allows the company to “build viewing experiences customized” for that population.

“We are moving more and more into a world where niche audience engagement matter more and more, and the World Cup is going to be a great showcase for broadcasters and brands who realize that a fast growing audience, the Latino market, is less niche and more mainstream and growing and powerful than ever before,” said Chris Lencheski, veteran marketer and professor at Columbia University. “No matter what the language, quality live sports remain king, and platforms like this can unite audience numbers, rather than divide them.”

Will this World Cup be the one that opens larger doors for the Latino audience and brands who have been risk averse to engage? The opportunity appears to be growing.

Cover Image: Wikimedia Commons/Danilo Borges-Portal da Copa

What: FIFA has reviewed (markedly different) bids from Morocco and North America for the 2026 World Cup.
Why it matters: Initial signs point towards the United 2026 bid, and as that gains traction, marketers can plan for increased interest here.

Will the combined bid for North America for the 2026 World Cup become reality? FIFA looks like they are moving closer to that decision.

FIFA last week reviewed bid reports from the two main groups seeking to host the 2026 World Cup (@FIFAWorldCup)—Morocco and a United bid from the U.S.-Canada-Mexico—and published a 224-page report that states, “The Morocco 2026 bid and United 2026 bid represent almost two opposite ends of the spectrum when it comes to the nature of their bids.”

The joint bid would create a forecasted US $14.3 billion in revenue for FIFA, the Morocco bid forecasted US $7.2 billion for what would be the first 48-nation event in FIFA World Cup history.

For U.S. brands heavily invested in soccer, like Coca-Cola, the awarding of the bid would be a positive shot after getting a setback with the U.S. not qualifying for this year’s World Cup in Russia.

United 2026 (@united2026 ‏) said that of the 23 potential stadiums that might be used for matches, 17 currently exist and need no major renovation for the World Cup, and the remaining six are built but are due for renovation.

“The United 2026 bid has a clear lead in this area, with all major infrastructure already in place, allowing FIFA to focus on a number of exciting initiatives relating to sports science, fan engagement, multi-media integration and other new forms of digitalization,” according to the FIFA committee.

“The amount of new infrastructure required for the Morocco 2026 bid to become a reality cannot be overstated.” There were 20 categories, from revenue and marketing to legalities, transportation, security, and stadiums discussed.

The United 2026 bid had no “High” risk tags and just three deemed as “Medium”: Organizing costs, legal and government support and human rights and labor standard. The United 2026 bid had “Low” risks in the 17 other categories.

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“The Morocco 2026 bid is well presented and strong in terms of government commitment, but would need to newly build most of its tournament-related and wider infrastructure,” according to the report. “The United 2026 bid, on the other hand, has promising levels of infrastructure already in place and fully operational.”

“While single bids offer some advantages in terms of having just one host member association and one host country government, it should be noted that FIFA anticipated the possibility of joint bids —which offer the advantage of scale— when it decided to expand the format of the tournament to include 48 teams.”

Of the 80 matches to be played in the expanded tournament, under the United bid, 10 would be held in Canada, 10 in Mexico and 60 across the U.S.

This comes right after several soccer officials attending Leaders Week in N.Y. expressed great concern about the United bid, because of the anti-immigration policy currently being pushed by the Trump White House. “The World Cup has to be a global event where people from all countries are welcomed, and the current administration doesn’t see that,” one European soccer official said. “Unless something changes that’s going to be an issue for some countries when the vote comes around.”

Others were quick to point out that the current administration, even with a reelection, would not be in place in 2026, but the anti-immigration issue can still be a factor for the voters now. “It is very unhealthy, especially given the makeup of those of influence in FIFA, we hope that is not the case.”

For U.S. brands heavily invested in soccer, like Coca-Cola, the awarding of the bid would be a positive shot after getting a setback with the U.S. not qualifying for this year’s World Cup in Russia. It would also be a positive step forward for the clubs who have now opened offices in the US and are looking to engage even deeper in soccer in the U.S. Paris St. Germain recently became the seventh club to open an office in the U.S. looking to expand their brand into the U.S. business community. The bid win would also be a hugely positive step forward for Soccer United marketing and all those engaged in the business in the U.S. and Mexico, which officials still see as the fastest growing soccer market in the world, on par with China.

There are still many questions to be answered until the bid is awarded in the coming weeks, however for now, FIFA appears to be looking west for their next news, and that’s great news for all involved in the business.

cover image: Wikimedia Commons/Shine 2010

What: Entravision has announced several promotional initiatives tied in to its FIFA World Cup Spanish-language radio coverage.
Why it matters: Connecting with U.S. fans supporting their native Latin American nations is particularly critical with the absence of Team USA at World Cup, beginning in two weeks.

FIFA World Cup (@FIFAWorldCupis now two weeks away, and with the U.S. not qualifying, many Latinos here are focusing on the teams of their national origins. That audience segment is critical for radio partner Entravision (@EVCMedia), which has added a selection of promotional events in support of its full Spanish-language coverage of the matches, across stations in 16 markets.

Beginning on June 18, Entravision will broadcast its program “El Show de Erazno y La Chokolata” (@ERAZNOYLACHOKO) from the FIFA World Cup International Broadcast Center in Moscow. The show has been conducting promotions leading into the coverage, with one lucky fan earning the honor of singing the Mexican National Anthem before Monday’s Mexico vs. Wales game at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif. Host Erazno introduced the winner on the field as well.

We believe we are unique in our capability to offer local advertisers the ability to participate in the excitement that is the 2018 World Cup.

Moving forward, Entravision has put in place a promotion where listeners can win cash every time they play the legendary “GOOOOLLL” call by the great Andres Cantor, who will be one of the broadcasters on the network’s coverage.

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Connecting its popular show’s audience to Entravision’s coverage of the World Cup is one way that the broadcaster is taking advantage of the interest by Spanish speakers in the event. Latin American countries represented at the World Cup include Uruguay, Peru, Argentina, Brazil, Costa Rica, Mexico, Panama and Colombia, with other fans of Spain and Portugal likely following as well. It’s a great opportunity for marketers, particularly locally in markets like Los Angeles, Phoenix, Denver, Albuquerque and Las Vegas, which are among the 16 in which the coverage will be heard, to connect with this rabid fan base.

“Soccer is the number one sport among Hispanics and these exclusive programs are an exceptional platform for national and local advertisers to engage with Latinos who reside in the 16 markets where we are carrying the FIFA World Cup and be able to capitalize on this prestigious global soccer event. We believe we are unique in our capability to offer local advertisers the ability to participate in the excitement that is the 2018 World Cup and look forward to helping them connect with the Latino market,” said Jeffery A. Liberman, President and Chief Operating Officer of Entravision, in a statement.

Cover Image credit: Danilo Borges/Portal da Copa

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

  • https://pbs.twimg.com/profile_images/976525399285903361/P2GtA01o_400x400.jpgDHL extended its partnership with ESL to expand its presence in the esports market. DHL provides core logistics services to ESL and will be featured on various social media channels, including throughout the ESL One series tournaments. DHL will handle the ESL One series logistics transporting the stage equipment to the venues throughout the series, as well as individual gamer seating. Hispanics are nearly twice as likely to buy and wear video game branded apparel, according to a 2014 Think Now Research study.
  • During Memorial Day weekend, Bud Light presented a new ad that’s part of the ongoing Dilly, Dilly campaign targeting Hispanics. This time, the beer brand is clearly focusing on Hispanic audiences in the lead-up to the 2018 World Cup, by including the soccer tournament and Spanish-language. The ad, which will be followed by other World Cup-themed spots, will run in both English and Spanish and get airplay on Fox Sports and Telemundo, the two networks carrying the tourney in the U.S…
  • State Farm will continue to be the official partner of the NBA 2K League. It will present pregame segments titled Game Mode that capture strategy and insights from NBA 2K League players on Twitch broadcasts throughout the season. “As a longstanding partner of the NBA and the WNBA, State Farm has a proven history of authentically connecting with fans and has demonstrated a commitment to eSports,” said Brendan Donohue, Managing Director, NBA 2K League.

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  • MARCA ClaroClaro Sports has signed an agreement to become the exclusive broadcaster of Southeastern Conference (SEC) college football games and SEC and Pacific-12 basketball games in 17 Latin American countries. The games will also be available on its digital platform MARCA Claro, non exclusively. Games will be brought to Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Dominican Republic, Uruguay, and Venezuela.
  • Bud Light will be the presenting sponsor of Wizards District Gaming in the NBA 2K League in 2018. Bud Light will also be a title sponsor for Wizards District Gaming watch parties and will host a tournament open to the public in the Budweiser Brewhouse at Capital One Arena.

What: Panini’s Jason Howarth, Las Vegas Lights’ Steve Pastorino and the L.A. Galaxy’s Brendan Hannan weigh in on the importance of the Latino market at World Cup this summer.
Why it matters: Resetting from a U.S.-Canada focus to Latino fandom is critical for brands with World Cup ties.

There were about 48 hours of angst for Panini’s Jason Howarth (@sportsmktgguywhen the U.S. Men’s National team was eliminated for World Cup contention by Trinidad and Tobago.

“Then, we realized we needed to seize all the other opportunities we knew would exist in the U.S.,” he said. “After all when you go around the country and you see all the Messi and Ronaldo jerseys you quickly realize the U.S. team is probably not the focus of most fans anyway.”

That reset, and that opportunity, was echoed not just by Howarth, but also by executives from both the L.A. Galaxy (@LAGalaxyand the Las Vegas Lights (@lvlightsfclast Thursday on a panel about “The Beautiful Game” at Portada LA. at the Loews Santa Monica Beach Hotel. The message from all was clear: FIFA World Cup (@FIFAWorldCup) presents a great business opportunity, especially for brands and teams that have the foresight to embrace all parts of Latino business and culture as the 2018 event quickly approaches.

When the World Cup shock wore off, the opportunity for teams and leagues and brands to creatively find new ways to engage in soccer in a still-growing marketplace is huge.

For the Galaxy, VP of Marketing, Communications and Digital Brendan Hannan (@brendanhannan ‏) was quick to point out that the multicultural approach the club has long taken with their fan experience will be buffeted by World Cup, even with the lack of a U.S. or Canadian National team in the field. The reason? Mexico. With two Mexican players on the roster (Giovani dos Santos and Jonathan dos Santos) who are candidates for the national team, a wide and years-long  community outreach into the Mexican community, and a footprint that extends south to the Mexican border, LA’s longstanding Major League Soccer franchise has more than just a passing chance of business success when play begins in Russia.

“All our communication with the community is bilingual,” said Hannan. “Our community events and staff have a great understanding of what works and resonates in not just the Mexican but the Latino community as well, and above all, we fully embrace and enjoy the fact that the gateway to the Latino fan starts with the grassroots and will be wide open during World Cup. We are excited about the opportunities.”

Like the Galaxy, the Lights, the newest, and perhaps most disruptive, entry into Tier 2 USL ( ), understands the hyperlocal value of the Latino community to soccer as their key to business success and brand engagement.

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“The face of our franchise (Jose Luis Sánchez Solá – “Chelís”) is a legend in Mexico, we have nine players on our roster who are Mexican, and 20 of our 24 players are bilingual, so we fully understand the value that the Latino audience can bring to our business,” said Steve Pastorino (@StevePastorino), VP of Corporate Sponsorship for the Lights. “On Father’s Day at 8am, following a game the night before, where will we be as a team? Watching what will be the biggest first round matchup in World Cup, Mexico and Germany, with our fans and partners.”

Even with the Mexican focus, Pastorino, a longtime sports marketer who helped launch the MLS Chicago Fire (@ChicagoFireas well, pointed to the massive importance of all the soccer-playing Latino nations as a benchmark for brand success for the Lights. “No matter if it’s Argentina, or Peru or Brazil, we will embrace and leverage off the success in World Cup for all our Latino supporters, as soccer is really a great unifier of cultures, and there is no bigger event to unify around than the World Cup.”

That unification has been a massive boost again for Panini, whose sticker books for World Cup have become a global phenomenon. The numbers of books and stickers the company has been producing for World Cup are staggering; 2 million packets a day with over 70 million stickers being distributed in a week in over 100 countries including the U.S. The key concentration, both in the States and elsewhere, is in the Latino market.

Jason Howarth

“No country understands and appreciates the value of our sticker books better than Brazil,” Howarth added. “And the gateway for our business in the United States wasn’t really going to be through the U.S. national team (although the company did sign rising star Christian Pulisic  to a long-term deal); it was going to be through those Central and South American countries that have strong fan bases here in the U.S. The stories of Peru, Mexico, Argentina and the like will grow as the games progress, and with those stories will come even more affinity not just from the millions of followers those nations already have but from casual fans who will start watching World Cup and enjoying this massive stage when they might be doing something else. It is a huge opportunity for us not just now, but for our future business in soccer as well here in the U.S.”

Would it have helped had the U.S. qualified? Of course, all admitted. However, when the World Cup shock wore off, the opportunity for teams and leagues and brands to creatively find new ways to engage in soccer in a still-growing marketplace, and do it directly with the fastest growing demo in the U.S. (Latinos who are upwardly mobile and soccer astute) is huge.

“It’s an opportunity all of us are looking forward to, and we are pretty confident the stories will help us grow beyond what was possible even four years ago,” Pastorino added. “For a community like Las Vegas, it can’t be much more exciting.”

The angst for World Cup is certainly a distant memory.

What: Tech newcomer Tronsmart has signed Uruguay National Team star Luis Suárez as brand ambassador in advance of the FIFA World Cup next month.
Why it matters: Brands that don’t have the wherewithal for official FIFA World Cup partnerships can still find under-the-radar ways of promoting their products during the time when soccer fever is highest across the world.

The FIFA World Cup (@FIFAWorldCupis nearly upon us, with Group Play in Moscow, St. Petersburg and other Russian cities just six weeks away. Global brands are finding their way into the games, whether through official sponsorships or back-door via deals with individual athletes as spokesmen.

Upstart Chinese tech firm Tronsmart (@Tronsmart ), founded less than five years ago to take advantage of the burgeoning global live streaming TV box market, has kicked off marketing to soccer fans by signing Uruguay National Team star Luis Suárez as brand ambassador in a deal announced this week. While not thought of by some fans in the same breath as other South American countries like Brazil and Argentina, Uruguay has a deep, strong World Cup history and is considered a solid contender to advance out of Group play by many prognosticators.

With World Cup sponsorships coming fast and furious leading up to and through the summer, a brand like Tronsmart may have found an under-the-radar way to reach sports fans.

The prolific goal scorer (@LuisSuarez9), who also stars for FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona), is an inspired if perhaps risky choice for the Shenzhen-based firm’s first real foray into sports marketing. The Salto native made headlines in the last World Cup in Brazil, having been found to have bitten Italian player Giorgio Chiellini during a match. That cost him a sponsorship with fledgling online poker company 888poker thereafter and was suspended for a time because of the action.

But Suárez has bounced back, leaving Liverpool and the Premier League after the incident and moving to La Liga, where he’s been a consistent scorer for Barça. He was able to keep his Adidas sponsorship and is still active with numerous partners in his native Uruguay, including telecommunications giant Antel.

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“Mr. Suárez is an international icon that has won fans all around the world,” said Mr. Eric, Chairman of Tronsmart, in a statement. “He is an extraordinary football player and a wonderful family man. I am looking forward to watching Mr. Suárez compete this year and will be rooting for him!”

With World Cup sponsorships coming fast and furious leading up to and through the summer, a brand like Tronsmart may have found an under-the-radar way to reach sports fans in its target markets in the Americas as well as Europe, Middle East, and Asia.

Cover image courtesy of Tronsmart.

What: At a breakfast hosted by CNN en Español and Portada in New York this week, marketers discussed how sports draws the Latino audience.
Why it matters: The impact brands can have in sports is strong and still growing, in soccer in particular, especially with World Cup just weeks away.

The message that sports deliver to the Latin demographic was made pretty clear Tuesday morning at The Lamb’s Club, when CNN en Español (@CNNEEand Portada hosted a special breakfast to talk about the challenges and opportunities in Multicultural Marketing. The packed room listened to a spirited debate about the impact brands can, or aren’t having in the Spanish speaking community and the steps measurement and engagement are taking to continue to create opportunities with outlets like CNN en Español, the largest Spanish-language platform in the country and perhaps the most impactful in North America to penetrate the Spanish language consumer.

Away from that, the topic of sports continued to assert itself, as an engagement point across cultures, languages and all barriers. “When looking for where to spend, we go to where people are engaged, and many times that engagement is in sports,” said Manny Gonzalez, Senior Director-Multicultural at Moët Hennessy USA (@MoetHennessy). “In many cases our consumers are led less by language and more by lifestyle, so that makes sports a key part of our marketing. Sports crosses all barriers and gives consumers a common ground to share stories and storytelling is key to building a brand.”

While the numbers across all platforms are encouraging for those looking to engage the Latino audience, the question of accurate and targeted measurement is still in flux.

That common experience in sports, especially for Latinos, continues to be in soccer. “The Beautiful Game,” as we head toward the World Cup, remains the fastest-growing sport for viewing and for grassroots engagement in North America, a fact that is not lost on marketers who have grown up experiencing a multicultural environment.

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“When you look at the numbers and see that 93 percent of Liga MX fans don’t watch the NBA, and 74 percent don’t watch the NFL, it tells you a lot about the power of soccer and how important it is to engage with the Latino fan in the U.S.,’ added Nelson Pinero, Senior Digital Director, Senior Partner at GroupM. “That is a really powerful look at how valuable not just sports, but soccer is, to brand engagement in the Latino community.”

How this translates to brand spends is still up for some debate. While the numbers across all platforms are encouraging for those looking to engage the Latino audience, the question of accurate and targeted measurement is still in flux. CNN en Español’s recent expanded partnership with Nielsen (@Nielsenwill help ease those questions and should bring more brands into the mix for the platform, and for those working in sports marketing, the purchase of Spanish language or sports that tread heavily in Latino culture should benefit from bigger numbers and better engagement as we head toward World Cup, and a key sport like soccer continues to be a big factor in the mind of the consumer.

No matter what the language, sports continues to be key.

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!

What: The newest MLS team, Los Angeles Football Club, and FIFA World Cup have announced their respective Spanish language U.S. broadcast partners.
Why it matters: Whether an established international tournament or a team competing in its first handful of games in its inaugural season, soccer broadcasts in Spanish are critical in reaching this huge audience.

The launch of MLS’s latest franchise, Los Angeles Football Club (@LAFC), is off to a rousing start, with the new squad quickly developing a supporters group—seven busloads strong for a battle with “crosstown” rivals LA Galaxy in Carson, Calif. Starting next week, Spanish speaking LAFC fans can tune in to the first of 18 matches on UniMás () KFTR Channel 46, as the team announced that Univision Los Angeles will be its Official Spanish-Language TV partner this year.

“We are committed to making our matches accessible to everyone throughout Los Angeles,” LAFC Owner and President Tom Penn said in a statement. “It is an honor to partner with Univision Los Angeles – a trusted and respected broadcast leader that ensures award-winning, comprehensive content and coverage of our Club.”

We’re excited to be part of the World Cup event and our ability to provide extensive coverage to our local communities through our radio stations.

This comes on the heels of news that Hispanic fans who want to follow this summer’s FIFA World Cup (@FIFAWorldCupon radio will have a new option: Entravision (@EVCMedia), which will broadcast 53 of the 64 total matches (including al three for Mexico in Group F) on its stations in 16 markets, beginning with the opening ceremony and group play on June 14. With Uruguay, Peru, Argentina, Brazil, Costa Rica, Mexico, Panama and Colombia joining Spain and Portugal in the field, there will be plenty of interest among the Latin American fan base, particularly in markets like Los Angeles, Denver, Phoenix, El Paso, Albuquerque and Las Vegas, whose affiliates will air the games.

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“Latinos live and breathe soccer and it is by far the number one sport among our listeners,” said Jeffery A. Liberman, President and Chief Operating Officer of Entravision, in a statement. “We’re excited to be part of the World Cup event and our ability to provide extensive coverage to our local communities through our radio stations. This global soccer tournament is one of the most recognized sporting events in the world and provides advertisers with a premier opportunity to connect with our audience.”

No word yet on which advertising partners are on board for either entity, but with UniMás KFTR 46 ranking among the top stations in L.A., regardless of language, in key demographics, opportunities abound for marketers to catch on to the early success of LAFC and its newly formed fan base. And World Cup retains a huge appeal, even without the U.S. National Team, which failed to qualify.

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!

Cover image courtesy LAFC

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