SBJ/20081027/This Week's News

FC Barcelona gets help with MLS bid from CAA

Spanish soccer power FC Barcelona has signed CAA Sports to represent it in the U.S. in several areas, including extending the club’s slogan — “More Than a Club” — and advising it during the MLS expansion process.

The partnership, which began in February, could expand further if FC Barcelona is awarded an MLS expansion team in Miami. Should that happen, CAA Sports would be involved in the development of that franchise, said FC Barcelona President Joan Laporta.

MLS is expected to award two expansion franchises later this year or early next year. Other cities that applied include Atlanta, Montreal, Ottawa, Portland, St. Louis and Vancouver.

As the expansion process unfolds, CAA will help FC Barcelona officials establish relationships with MLS executives, team owners, team executives and media, said Joan Oliver, CEO of FC Barcelona.

CAA Sports will help FC Barcelona with
its marketing efforts in the United States.

“We have met with the owners and we’re clearly trying to explain to everyone why having an FCB franchise would be helpful to them, and CAA is very helpful,” Oliver said.

If the franchise is awarded to FC Barcelona, CAA would then be involved in marketing the franchise and possibly selling sponsorships like the club’s jersey front, Oliver said.

“We think CAA, with its connections in the world of sponsorship and celebrities, could be very helpful for us trying to make deals that can create for us the identity of a [FC Barcelona] franchise in MLS,” he said.

The partnership between FC Barcelona and CAA isn’t limited to MLS. CAA also helps the club with other marketing efforts in the U.S.

In August, it helped the Spanish club launch the “More Than a Club: Kick It to Malaria” campaign. In support of the nonprofit organization Malaria No More, FC Barcelona partnered with Fox Soccer Channel and the American Youth Soccer Organization to try to raise money for $10 mosquito nets for people in Africa.

The Spanish club, which pays $2 million a year to UNICEF, is known for its humanitarianism.

“This kind of a strategy is important,” Oliver said. “Our idea in approaching CAA was that as our aim in the States is to not only be recognized as a sports franchise, but as a brand, we needed a different kind of strategy than a traditional one. They understand that.”

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