By TATE STEINLAGE
Stemming from a preseason friendly back in February, Sporting Kansas City and Brazilian club Fluminense FC have entered into a “strategic partnership.”
The deal has been agreed upon through 2016 and will allow both clubs to “facilitate cooperation” for loans, transfers and other club and commercial opportunities, Sporting KC announced in a press release Friday.
“When we started the initial discussions of forming a partnership with a club outside of the United States, we were looking for a very specific set of qualities and opportunities,” Sporting KC manager Peter Vermes said in the release. “We did not want this to be a marketing ploy. We wanted this to be beneficial for both clubs on the business and technical side.”
Stipulations of the deal require Fluminense FC to loan at least one player to Sporting KC per MLS season, as well as loaning one player to Sporting KC’s USL PRO affiliates. In return, the American club will provide academy players, coaching, and brand influence.
“After meeting with Fluminense several times since the Disney Pro Soccer Classic in February, we realized that they were a perfect fit,” Vermes added. “We were aware of their club tradition and ability to produce world-class talent, but it was the common philosophy and vision shared between both clubs’ management that drove this partnership. We think there are many business practices that each club can share to better the other club, promoting a win-win scenario on and off the field. Through this partnership, we’ll be able to send players down to Brazil to gain additional experience and Fluminense will be able to do the same with us.”
The Fluminense FC youth academy has been well known for developing young talent over the years — especially defenders — with names like Rafael (Manchester United), Thiago Silva (Paris Saint-Germain), and Marcelo (Real Madrid) all having come from the club’s youth system.
“Player development, training opportunities and coaching education all feed into our core mission and this partnership with Fluminense FC will be of great benefit in all of these areas,” Sporting Club CEO Robb Heineman said. “This partnership will provide access to another level of curriculum and will continue to help us become the best developmental organization in the United States.”
“We continuously invested in our presence in the North American market over the last two years in search of a strategic partnership,” Fluminense president Peter Siemsen said. “I believe our goals and communication are very well aligned. We could not be any more pleased with this association for our brand.”
Sporting KC and Fluminense FC clubs first worked together in April when Sporting KC acquired defender Igor Juliao from the Brazilian side to fill one of its international roster spots. Juliao has played in 16 matches for the reigning MLS Cup champions in 2014, tallying one assist and three shots on goal under Vermes.
What do you make of the partnership between Sporting KC and Fluminense FC? Could the partnership strengthen Sporting KC’s youth system?
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