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SBD Global/July 24, 2012/International Football

Foreign Football Clubs U.S. Summer Tour Giving MLS Profile A Boost

Many European football clubs, in “an effort to extend their fan bases in the emerging soccer market of the U.S., are doing so with summer tours of the country," with exhibitions such as Wednesday's Liverpool-AS Roma game at Fenway Park, according to Amalie Benjamin of the BOSTON GLOBE. Int'l soccer is “promoted and encouraged” by MLS, which in recent years has “made strides … but still lags far behind international soccer in terms of passion, talent, and financial resources.” MLS Commissioner Don Garber said, “There’s certainly enormous overlap today between the international soccer market and the MLS soccer market. Our goal is to continue to convert those people who begin their soccer fan experience through a connection to an international, whether that be through the EA (video) game or watching the Premier League on television. Then we work hard to convert those fans into being a passionate supporter of a local team.” From July 18 to Aug. 15, 35 games are scheduled in the U.S. and Canada involving international teams, the "most in recent history.” That includes the MLS All-Star game, in which "the best of the U.S. league will take on EPL club Chelsea.” Garber said, “People are curious to see how we do fare against a world-class competitor.” He admitted that even the “best of MLS is not close to on par with the best of Europe.” Still, MLS “believes it’s a win-win, that by bringing European teams into the fold, that the soccer audience increases, helping international clubs looking to expand market share and domestic clubs looking to increase interest in soccer.” MLS average attendance “has grown from 14,862 in '01 to 18,626 in '12” (BOSTON GLOBE, 7/23).

ON SALE: BILD reported that the sponsor-less jersey of Bundesliga club Werder Bremen "has been sold out." The club's Marketing Dir Klaus Filby said, "We have sold four-times as many jerseys as at the same point last season." Despite the jersey's success, the club is still looking for a title sponsor (BILD, 7/22).
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