In last week’s Shabbat Shalom: Friday Wrap-up on SportsAgentBlog.com, Darren found an article that described the emergence of American soccer. The article talked how Los Angeles based Sports and Entertainment agency, CAA, recently announced a global partnership with Portuguese based agency, International Soccer Agency Gestifute. CAA and Gestifute will combine to form a global community of the best soccer players and coaches in the world. Gestifute and now CAA represent clients such as Christiano Ronaldo of Manchester United and head coach Jose Mourinho of Inter Milan. Ronaldo was the 2007/08 FIFA World Player of the Year, while Mourinho was awarded the Coach of the Year.
CAA only recently jumped into the field of representing soccer players in 2007, when David Beckham came to the U.S. CAA was in association with Beckham’s Manager, Simon Fuller, and was in charge of international marketing for Beckham. Since Beckham came to CAA, one of the English Premiere Leagues top teams, Chelsea FC, has also become a CAA client. Chelsea and others are looking to break into the growing American soccer scene.
Gestifute was founded in 1996 by FIFA agent Jorge Mendes. Mendes is now in charge of the many high profile clients and coaches. He is looking to find the talented youth players in Europe and is now expanding to America. Gestifute also represents player and coaches like Ricardo Carvalho (Chelsea/Portuguese National team), Anderson (Manchester United/Brazilian National Team), Nani (Manchester United/Portuguese National Team), Deco (Chelsea FC/Portuguese National Team), Ricardo Quaresma (FC Porto/ Portuguese National Team), and 2002 World Cup-winning head coach Luiz Felipe Scolari (Chelsea FC).
This is a great thing for American soccer players and fans. It shows that American soccer is finally accepted overseas and that foreign teams are looking for talented American soccer players. Soccer is seen as a global sport that has been played all over the world for centuries, but America seemed to be late in catching on. Football, not Futbol, has been the sport Americans are known for around the world, but that is beginning to change. The emergence of Major League Soccer (MLS), an American soccer league, has now given domestic and foreign players an arena to play in. Many great Americans develop in the MLS and others are now playing at great clubs overseas (Beasley, McBride, Onyewu, Donovan did but went back to the MLS).
Before the last World Cup, the USA was ranked as high as 8th in the World. The USA is now ranked 30th in the world (as of the most current FIFA rankings last month), and many young US players are playing overseas. I witnessed this first hand as one of my Roanoke Star Premiere teammates, Danny Karbassiyoon, went abroad to London and played for Arsenal FC after high school. Danny was nasty and had the ability to play at any level, being one of the first American born players at Arsenal. He is now the head scout for Arsenal in the US.
The MLS may have salaries that are a lot less than foreign leagues, but the money will only increase as soccer grows in America. The EPL and other foreign leagues pay soccer players just as much as the NFL pays its players. It would certainly be worthwhile for American agencies to invest in soccer, however an agency would need international “connections” overseas to do so. The partnership between CAA, one of America’s leading sports/ entertainment agencies, and Gestifute might be the spark that ignites the fire.
The merger between CAA and Gestifute proves to solidify the statement that American soccer is growing. The international community is now starting to recognize American players and accepting them and encouraging them to play internationally. With the arrival of Beckham, the MLS has picked up and gained fans and approval by other players. This merger is a great sign for soccer in America. I expect other American sports and entertainment agencies to add soccer to their sports divisions. It is not only marketable overseas, as Americans are catching on and the amount of talented American soccer players will only increase.