Jump to content

America's Other Fave Soccer Team

red card

Recommended Posts

WSJ article about Mexico. Mexican National Club Is the Game's Hottest Draw in the States; Next, a Battle Over Talent

Interesting tidbit at the end:

The irony is that it has been U.S. soccer executives who've been cultivating the devout following for El Tri north of the border. Since 2006, when Soccer United Marketing Inc., a wholly-owned unit of Major League Soccer, became the Mexican national team's official agent in the U.S., the group has staged as many as five U.S. games each year for El Tri. It also has inked lucrative sponsorship deals for the team with several big U.S. companies.

For MLS, in which just two of 16 teams turn a profit, the El Tri represents one of its most important businesses ventures. National loyalty takes a backseat to whether a fan chooses to watch soccer or baseball.

"Our mission is to grow a soccer nation," said MLS commissioner Don Garber, who serves as chief executive of Soccer United Marketing. "Our goal isn't to convince them what country to root for but to convince them to give us a chance and convert them into MLS fans."

And well-know problem facing Canada but with a marketing push:

I follow Mexico, I root for Mexico, Mexico is my team," says Hugo Rodriguez, a 23-year-old UCLA graduate student who grew up in Inglewood, Calif., the son of Mexican immigrants, and who has followed El Tri to see games in Oakland, Phoenix, Denver and San Diego in recent years. And if Mr. Rodriguez were a star player, is there any doubt which team he'd want to play for? "Mexico, not even a question," he says.

With a little more than a month to go before the World Cup in South Africa, the red, white and green are making their presence felt in the U.S. as never before. And Mexican soccer officials say it's about more than just selling tickets: It's a recruiting tool. They want the best American players of Mexican heritage to play for Mexico, a country where soccer is second only to Catholicism as a national religion.

"If a player grows up with a passion to wear the national shirt, and if he has a Mexican father or mother, then we will be only too happy to have him," says Decio de Maria, general secretary of the Mexican Football Federation.


Link to comment
Share on other sites

Another article in the same vein but this time in the NY Times. A couple of observations came to mind when reading it: we tend to think Cdns are more football mature than America but once we get the beyond mainstream, the US has a much more cultured footy base than here; and I have to wonder why if MLS knows about the power of the Mexican market that they chased after the soccer mom crowd for MLS or have they segmented the product for each base and eventually they will be an convergence?


Link to comment
Share on other sites

Copying this article here as archive, as one non-permanent page for non-prescibers.


Most Popular Soccer Team in the U.S.: Mexico?

In March, 63,227 fans at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, N.C., watched a 0-0 tie between Mexico and Iceland.


Published: May 6, 2010

Tony Gutierrez/Associated Press

Fans of Mexico's soccer team have been turning out in impressive numbers for a series of exhibition games in the United States in recent years.

Promoters, who had never attracted more than 20,000 fans to a soccer game unaccompanied by a concert, would have been thrilled to hit that mark on a midweek night game against China.

But when the game arrived, they were overwhelmed. Traffic heading north from the border on Interstate 805 was backed up for miles, and as kickoff approached, people began to park on the side of the road. They walked down embankments and through a creek and dashed across streets to reach Jack Murphy Stadium. Once there, long lines snaked from ticket windows.

When the crowd finally settled in, shortly after halftime, nearly 50,000 people filled the stadium.

“That game, in a way, opened the eyes of the Mexican national team and promoters of what was possible if you took risks,” said Paul Mendes, who has been involved with organizing Mexico’s games in the United States for much of the last two decades. “It set off a wave.”

That wave is growing. Mexico’s trips to the United States, including Friday night’s sold-out exhibition against Ecuador at the new 75,000-seat stadium in the Meadowlands in New Jersey, are big business.

Mexico will play Senegal at Soldier Field in Chicago on Monday and Angola at Reliant Stadium in Houston on Thursday. By the end of the tour, which is to prepare Mexico’s players for the World Cup, the team known as El Tricolor will have played six games in the United States in less than three months, almost all before capacity crowds.

When Mexico played New Zealand at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif., in March, the only game in which European-based players performed, 90,000 packed the Rose Bowl on a Wednesday night. It was easy to see what brings Mexico back.

Not just the sheer numbers of fans, many of whom paid more than $40 for tickets — about double what tickets would cost in Mexico — but also in the hours leading up to the game, the bustling fiesta that surrounded the stadium had the air of a carnival with face painting, lucha libre acts, bands and games.

It was a far different atmosphere a decade ago, when Mexico’s games drew a typically young and overwhelmingly male crowd. The crowd now is dotted with women and families, and loutish behavior has waned.

It was a quintessential American scene — except that the language of choice was Spanish.

“It’s a nation within a nation,” said Doug Logan, the chief executive of USA Track and Field and a former Major League Soccer commissioner. “The crowd is more affluent now and the normal tipoff is that there are more women. When it becomes more affluent, it is safer for them to come.”

It is not surprising that a more wholesome environment would be attractive to businesses. Mexico’s visits to the United States have 14 major sponsors, including the Home Depot, Coca-Cola, AT&T and Wrigley.

Georgiana Flores, the director of multicultural marketing and sponsorship for Allstate insurance, a sponsor of the Mexico national team in the United States for four years, said that soccer was the best vehicle to reach many Mexican-Americans.

“The passion that Hispanics, and Mexicans in particular, have for soccer can’t be matched by anything else,” said Flores, whose company does not do business in Mexico. “The Mexican national team has been our targeted sports property.”

Television ratings reflect this. ESPN2’s broadcast of the United States’ victory against Mexico in February 2009 drew 1.2 million, the largest audience for a World Cup qualifier — but it was barely one-fifth the audience that Spanish-language Telemundo drew in the United States.

For the last seven years, Mexico’s games in the United States have been organized by Soccer United Marketing, the business arm of M.L.S. S.U.M. controls most major soccer promotional rights in the United States, including World Cup TV rights, tournaments like the Gold Cup, and the U.S. Soccer Federation. One of its most valuable agreements is with the Mexican soccer federation.

Although some wonder why M.L.S. would be in business with a competitor, Commissioner Don Garber said it fit with the league’s plan.

“Our goal is to create a soccer nation in our country,” he said. “We don’t care who they root for, who they watch on TV, who drives their passion. These exhibition games create big moments, but ultimately real fans connect with their local clubs. The Mexican national team is leaving today and it won’t come back for years. Next week the Red Bulls are going to have a game at brand-new Red Bull Arena.”

Before its agreement with S.U.M., the Mexican federation contracted with different promoters in different markets.

“We felt like if you could professionalize, you could use it as a platform to sponsors to sell their products,” Garber said. “It would provide direct lines to the hearts and minds of Mexican consumers.”

That has allowed Mexico to venture successfully into other markets. In 2008, Mexico drew 56,416 in Seattle for a game with China. In 2009, El Tri attracted 51,115 when it played Venezuela in Atlanta. In March, 63,227 went to a game in Charlotte, N.C., when Mexico played Iceland.

That is why Mexico keeps coming back. In stadiums filled with fans wearing the jersey of their national team, it is hard not to notice the color — green.

Link to comment
Share on other sites


This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

  • Create New...