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Volume 21 No. 1
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Free kicks: What it all means

“The short-term burst we saw around the men’s national team in Brazil has to be looked at with the longer-term view of how MLS will or won’t grow. Looking at both together will give marketers a better line of sight as to how to place bets on soccer moving forward in the domestic market.”

— Dave Mingey, president, GlideSlope

“This is a shot in the arm. If you look at the way MLS has grown, and the franchise values and growth in professional soccer in the U.S., it’s remarkable. MLS has taken a long-term strategic view and it’s beginning to pay dividends.”

— Scott Blackmun, CEO, USOC

“People in the U.S. are not just familiar with U.S. players and the U.S. team; soccer fans in the United States know most players participating. The mere fact that we’ve had that much more exposure to the European games and Latin American games has helped draw more hard-core and casual fans.” 

— John Lewicki, head of global alliances, McDonald’s

“Just because the World Cup is up 40 percent, you’re not going to see 40 percent growth in any soccer league no matter who does what to it. A broad audience tunes in and sees Messi score a goal. I believe a certain number of people will want to check him out and watch Barcelona in Champions League. There’s a halo, but it’s not a one-to-one correlation.”

— Scott Guglielmino, senior vice president of programming, ESPN

“I know numerous brands that shied away in the past who are now taking a closer look at U.S. Soccer — the men’s and women’s teams — along with MLS. It’s been 10 years in the making, maybe more, to get to this point. The investment in soccer from sponsors is going to keep climbing to extremely high numbers.”

— Rob Lampman, managing partner, Eiger Marketing Group

“As an agent, the goal is to line up as many on-the-field or commercial options as you can for your clients. Coming off this World Cup, that has not been a problem. Every four years, you’re going to see the game’s popularity and interest in U.S. players take off after a World Cup. But this time, it has been an explosion.”

— Lyle Yorks, group director for soccer, James Grant Group Ltd.

“It just goes to show that this is a sport that is finally being appreciated by people no matter what kind of a sports fan you are. It proves our axiom that people want to watch the best of the best … We thought the numbers were going to be strong. They had a number of things going for them. The time zone certainly helped a lot.”

— Jon Miller, president of programming, NBC Sports and NBCSN

“The stats keep on surprising us each and every day. When you’re talking about the highest-rated opening round, quarterfinals, semifinals and overall tournament, that’s surprising to just about everybody.”

— Debbie Shinnick, senior vice president, network sales and strategy research, Univision

“The way the [Brazilian national] team plays is close to the way that Brazil organized the event. There’s this optimism that everything will be fine. This optimism makes them think that everything will be covered. The [World Cup] is great. Everything operationally works well, but any incident could have changed the story. The same is with the team. Just because they were playing at home and the fans were there, [they thought] things would be OK. They forgot about the opponent [Germany].”

— Ricardo Fort, vice president, global sponsorships, Visa

— Compiled by SportsBusiness Journal staff