By Paul Nicholson
May 12 – From being the competition that opened a gateway to the biggest corruption crisis global football has ever experienced, Copa America Centenario has transformed itself into what could potentially become a gamechanger in terms of international football across the Americas.
Yesterday organisers announced that the official partnership opportunities for the tournaments are now sold out – an impressive achievement seeing the starting point and short timescale sale agency Soccer United Marketing had to put the sales together.
At the same time a panel at Soccerex in Mexico City was banging the drum to make all-America (CONCACAF and CONMEBOL) competition a regular calendar event, whether for national teams or even a club competition. Brazilian academic Pedro Trengrouse suggested: “We have to get beyond someone choosing to watch a European match in our countries (over our own). A stage is set for us to organise a club intercontinental competition every year.”
His sentiment was not lost on the audience who via a show of hands unanimously supported the idea of more cross-confederation competition. Whether the politically driven mandarins at CONCACAF and CONMEBOL would be similarly supportive remains to be seen – realistically it seems a long way off being a possibility.
The sales success for the 2016 Copa America, being played in the US for the first time is eye-opening. Ford, MasterCard, PPG COMEX, Procter & Gamble and Rémy Martin® Cognac have all joined the upcoming tournament as official partners. Organisers said that one additional partner will be named in the coming weeks.
The five new partners join Anheuser-Busch, Coca-Cola, Delta Air Lines, Makita, Nike, Samsung, Sprint, State Farm® and TAG Heuer – there are now fifteen official partners aligned with the event.
Sponsor partners receive rights to use the tournaments’ intellectual property for advertising and marketing materials, as well as packaging, consumer promotions and signage at tournament games. Partners will also be promoted in all media areas in the 10 tournament markets.
Raja Rajamannar, chief marketing & communications officer, MasterCard, said: “As a long-tenured partner, we are thrilled to be uniting with Copa to bring the biggest soccer event in the Americas to the United States this year. Soccer fans worldwide are extremely passionate about their sport, and this tournament represents a fantastic opportunity for us to co-create with our cardholders some truly once-in-a-lifetime Priceless experiences.”
This is the first time the Copa America has been held outside South America and US anticipation of the event is building, not least because of the large fanbases all the countries competing have in the US.
Neil Buethe, director of communications at US Soccer, said that the education process for fans has been relatively easy. “People know the names and that they are big time athletes and that they will be playing in matches that mean something.”
Organisers are planning Fan HQs which will be held the night before matches and where fans can congregate and connect in a carnival atmosphere with live music.
For the Copa America Centenario in the US it now seems to be not a question of whether it will be big or not, but rather how big it will be. Court Jeste, VP, international business, MLS/SUM, said: “We are a soccer nation already. It is about how we continue to grow.”
The tournament opens June 3, when the United States welcomes Colombia to Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, California.
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