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Will Financial Fair Play Rules Help Teams Become Winners On And Off The Pitch?

Building Brands Beyond Borders

Ian Ayre, Liverpool FC
Julie Foudy, Julie Foudy Sports Leadership Academy/ESPN
Don Garber, MLS
Seamus O'Brien, New York Cosmos
Ferran Soriano, Manchester City FC
Italo Zanzi, AS Roma

Can financial rules adopted by UEFA and proposed in the English Premiere League help soccer teams around the world become winners both on the pitch and off? That was the debate at the 2013 World Congress of Sports during a panel titled, “The Globalization of the Beautiful Game: Building Brands Beyond Borders.”

“We view this as a business, not as a loss leader,” said AS Roma CEO Italo Zanzi. “All of the things that the rules embrace, we embrace. As new owners of an international franchise, frankly, the new rules are welcomed. We want to win championships and make money.”

But Liverpool FC managing director Ian Ayre had some concerns. “Financial fair play is less about losses and more about spending within your means,” he said. “In Liverpool, we generate a lot of revenue and, of course, that should be put back into your teams. The nucleus of financial fair play is riddled with difficulties. UEFA has a lot of work to do.”

MLS Commissioner Don Garber said financial fair play throughout the world is important as MLS strives to become one of the world’s top soccer leagues. “For us to achieve our goal, we need normalcy around the world,” Garber said. “What’s going on now is abnormal.”Two-time Women’s World Cup winner Julie Foudy, now an ESPN analyst, wondered, “But how do you get talent? You have to pay the money. But more than half the teams in Europe are losing money. It’s imperative that something is done about it.”

Seamus O’Brien, chairman of the re-born New York Cosmos, who will begin play in the North American Soccer League in August, was optimistic about the game’s financial growth in the U. S. “The good thing is, talent is transportable,” said O’Brien. “The U. S. has the greatest economy in the world. The audience will pay to watch talent, and the talent will go to where the dollars are. We’ve got to raise our game on and off the pitch to be able to compete.”

Here's a slideshow from the panel. Click any image to start.

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