Is the United States starting to enjoy the beautiful game? I believe so. I’ve never heard so many Letterman jokes about it and that must be a good sign, mainly for the professionals involved in it. Just look at the size of the marketing potential. Look at the baseball, football and basketball figures and you will find out that the Formula 1 superstar Michael Schumacher still makes more money than everyone while in the US people prefer Indy and Nascar. Well… only golf superstars worth more than that. So what will happen the day soccer grasp Americans for good?
It will be a money banquet! Look at the Barcelona pre-season matches in the US. After letting 180 million Brazilians down displaying a mediocre performance at the World Cup Ronaldinho is making 180 million Euros for Barcelona on American soil. Of course that the money amount is just a figurative hunch but the fact is that the Barça games are incredibly valuable these days. Against Chivas the crowd was huge in the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum reaching a record number of 92,650 people, more than the maximum official capacity of the stadium (92,516).
Of course Ronaldinho is not alone. The team is the European Champions League champions and has many other superstars like Eto’o, Messi and Deco. Anyway, the money I’m talking about is not from the venues’ box offices but from the marketing value that the brand is conquering in the US. There is still a strong prejudice about it at the same time. The other day I was watching the David Letterman’s Late Show and his ‘top 10’ sketch was “Signs You Have World Cup Fever”. The #1 sign was “You’re not American”. In another soccer moment they were asking people in the streets if they could eat a nacho ‘without using their hands’. The humor is nice but it is revealing at the same time. Soccer is growing.
Right in the American fashion, teams with company’s brand names will lead the way. The Austrian Red Bull, after heavy investments in Formula 1 (not with just 1 team but 2: Red Bull and Toro Rosso) is now investing in American soccer. Bruce Arena is already in the team and (fat) Ronaldo is another possible acquisition to their cast. But why are the Americans surrendering their attention to the beautiful game after all? Low scores and questionable refereeing only works against the cause, I know. Even so we can foresee Letterman running out of anti-soccer jokes and being replaced by some soccer loving comedian in the (not so) near future.
Barcelona is thinking about having a team in the NBA… think about it. More selling products and brand value all the time: natural order of things on this earth. A life saving doctor will never earn as much as a worldwide performer. I hope you don’t call me a communist, I’m just saying.