Major League Soccer today announced it has entered into a multi-year strategic partnership with FC Barcelona, one of the world’s most popular and celebrated professional soccer clubs.
The new, five-year partnership between MLS and FC Barcelona – the first-ever European club to establish a long-term agreement with MLS and SUM in the United States – includes the organization of a minimum of six international matches throughout the term. The management of all commercial and sponsorship sales on behalf of the club, as well as marketing and PR in the United States, will be managed by Major League Soccer’s marketing arm, Soccer United Marketing.
As part of the agreement, FC Barcelona and its heralded roster of international superstars including Carles Puyol, Thierry Henry, Ronaldinho, Lionel Messi, Samuel Eto’o, will play games this summer. Details for the tour will be announced in the near future.
“FCB is a world-renowned brand for its great history of special players, entertaining play and success. In addition, FCB has proven itself to be more than just a club as witnessed by its commitment to worthy causes around the world,” said MLS Commissioner, Don Garber. “MLS is excited to help expand the story of FCB and its efforts by showcasing its breathtaking soccer and further developing its brand in North America.”
Philanthropy is an important focus of Barcelona. Through its slogan “Som més que un club” – “More Than a Club” – FCB embodies the value set that characterize their institution. On the field, and in efforts to present its attractive style of play, sportsmanship and social aspects — focusing on those disadvantaged – FCB is giving back to the community, as the community has given to the club. To achieve this, the club counts on their FC Barcelona Foundation. Among its initiatives is the five-year partnership with Unicef, signed in 2006, in which, aside from wearing the logo on the front of the jersey, they donate almost $2.5 million dollars per year to Unicef.
The Spanish giant has to its name 18 La Liga trophies, a record-setting 24 Copa del Rey championships and two UEFA Champions League titles, the latter of which was captured in 2006 just before their record-setting tour of the United States organized by SUM.
“After a successful tour in 2006, we at FC Barcelona are excited to embrace a long-term strategy for our brand in the U.S. market,” said FC Barcelona President Joan Laporta. “This represents a true North American expansion for FC Barcelona. We are sure that, with the cooperation of MLS and SUM, Barcelona will become more recognizable among the North American public, as well as continue the growth of soccer in the United States.”
In 2006, the FC Barcelona USA Tour, managed by SUM, registered the highest average attendance for any club tour in U.S. history, averaging 80,734 in three matches, and is the only one among those tours featuring three or more games to sell out every stadium. FC Barcelona played in front of three sold-out crowds: at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum (vs. CD Guadalajara, 1-1 on Aug. 6 in front of 92,650), at Reliant Stadium in Houston (vs. Club America, 3-3 on Aug. 9, with a crowd of 70,550) and at Giants Stadium in E. Rutherford, NJ (vs. NY Red Bulls, 4-1 on Aug. 12, in front of 79,002).