Category Archives: Soccer

For Soccer Ventures to hold Alianza de Futbol National Finals in Phoenix, Arizona, April 30-May 5

For Soccer Ventures (FSV), an organization focused on the growth and long-term development of American soccer, today announced the start of the Alianza de Futbol National Finals in Phoenix, AZ, from April 30th – May 5th. The winning teams and top players from the 2021 Alianza tour, which featured over 30,000 players and 300,000 attendees, will meet in Phoenix beginning April 30th. This is the first time the National Finals have been held since 2019 and the finals will feature three distinct programs–the Ford Copita Alianza National Finals (youth), the Verizon Copa Alianza National Finals (adult), and the Allstate Sueno Alianza National Showcase (youth).

This is the first time the Ford Copita Alianza National Finals will be played in the U13, U15, U16 Girls, U17 and U19 age groups. 41 teams will compete over two days for the right to be crowned national champions.

The Verizon Copa Alianza National Finals will feature 12 teams from across the country competing for a $50,000 prize. The national tournament has been held three times in the history of Alianza. The defending champion is San Nicolás from Los Angeles, CA.

Following in the footsteps of current stars Santiago Muñoz (El Paso, TX), Nico Carrera (Frisco, TX), and Jonathan González (Santa Rosa, CA), the top 64 players from the 2021 Allstate Sueño Alianza National Showcase will compete in front of over 30 scouts from MLS, Liga MX, USL, the FMF, and U.S. Soccer in hopes of realizing their dream of playing professional soccer. The Allstate Sueño Alianza National Showcase has launched the careers of more than 70 professional players to date. This year’s 64 finalists were selected from over 5,000 players around the country.

The Allstate Sueño Alianza National Showcase will also feature a girls division featuring the top Hispanic talent scouted during the 2021 tour. During its inaugural year, the girls program lead to the discovery of Yaneisy Rodríguez (Vancouver, WA) and her signing to Club Necaxa from Liga MX Femenil.

Scouts from the following professional teams and federations will attend the Allstate Sueño Alianza National Showcase: América, Atlas, Atlanta United FC, Atlético San Luis, Austin FC, Barca Academy, Chicago Fire, Chivas, Club Celaya, Club Santos, Colorado Rapids, Columbus Crew, DC United, FC Dallas, FC Juarez, Houston Dynamo, LAFC, Necaxa, New England Revolution, North Carolina FC, NYCFC, New York Red Bulls, Pachuca, Philadelphia Union, Phoenix Rising, Portland Timbers, Real Salt Lake, Rayados de Monterrey, Sacramento Republic, San José Earthquakes, Seattle Sounders and Toluca.

“Alianza continues to nurture and showcase an amazing community of Hispanic players and coaches who fully deserve the opportunity to compete on a national level. We are thrilled to be hosting this event in a world class facility with professional scouts from some of the biggest clubs and federations in North America,” said Eduardo Ruiz, Executive Director of Alianza de Futbol.

Additionally, this year’s inaugural eAlianza Cup, in partnership with EA Sports, recently concluded with hundreds of participants from across the country playing for a $5,000 prize. Each of the eight finalists won a Sony Playstation 5 and all of the games were live streamed on Twitch.

The 2022 Alianza Tour officially kicks off May 28th – 29th in Phoenix. This year’s tour will visit 10 cities across the US including Dallas, Denver, Houston, Chicago, New York, LA, San Jose, Austin and El Paso. To register please click here.

PepsiCo Adds 16 New Organizations To The ‘Team Of Champions’ For Soccer In Underserved Communities

PepsiCo, Inc. (NASDAQ:PEP) today announced that it has added 16 new organizations to this year’s “Team of Champions,” a national purpose platform that improves access to soccer in underserved communities, including Black and Hispanic youth, across the U.S. The $1 million commitment over three years makes actionable investments on and off the field, including helping the teams with apparel and equipment costs, field access, mentoring, coaching and education, and fan experiences. In its second year, in addition to expanding its reach to more communities, “Team of Champions” will focus on recruiting more women athletes to the program.

Javier ‘Chicharito’ Hernandez, who continues to serve as “Team Captain”, will help raise the visibility of this year’s lineup and the impact these organizations have in local communities across the country. “Last year, PepsiCo and I worked together to establish the ‘Team of Champions’ program and, together, have brought 9,000 athletes and coaches onto the field,” said Chicharito. “In addition to the physical benefits of playing soccer, bringing this beautiful game into these communities teaches youth about teamwork, problem-solving, and accountability. Participation in sports overall enhances resilience and has been proven to boost self-esteem. I’m excited to continue to deliver on our mission to remove barriers to the game in underserved communities.”

New to this year’s “Team of Champions” program is “Access for Champions,” an opportunity for participating players to connect with UEFA ambassadors. Through these inspirational events, participants will have the chance to engage with athletes and leaders, from both PepsiCo and in the soccer industry, to discuss various topics ranging from creating a growth mindset to exploring soccer as an industry. Additionally, for the second consecutive year PepsiCo is partnering with ACCESS U, a non-profit dedicated to mentoring players and their families throughout the college recruiting process, to help guide students who are pursuing athletic scholarships.

The “Team of Champions” is an important initiative part of PepsiCo’s Racial Equality Journey’s community pillar, which in 2020 saw the company announce commitments of more than $570 million over five years to increase representation within its workforce, and uplift Black and Hispanic businesses and communities in the U.S. to address issues of inequality and create opportunity.

“The ‘Team of Champions’ is symbolic of PepsiCo’s commitment to drive long-term change and address systemic barriers in these underserved communities,” said Antonio Escalona, SVP & GM, Hispanic Business Unit, PepsiCo Foods North America. “Soccer is the most popular sport in the world, and the commitment made by our brands Lay’s, Pepsi and Gatorade through this program has had a measurable impact on Hispanic-owned and Black-owned soccer clubs, programs and businesses in the United States.”

This year’s “Team of Champions” lineup is comprised of 16 local organizations in cities including Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, Minneapolis, New Orleans, New York, Philadelphia, Seattle, Tampa Bay and Washington, D.C.

“Last year, we leveraged our largest global platform – UEFA Champions League – as a force for good, introducing the ‘Team of Champions’ and breaking down barriers to the game in cities across the country,” said Esperanza Teasdale, VP & GM, Hispanic Business Unit, PepsiCo Beverages North America. “We saw an opportunity to help level the playing field, and this year, we’re focused on expanding our support in more local communities – bolstering efforts to equalize access for underserved youth, including a focus on increasing the recruitment of young women athletes who have fewer opportunities to play sports than young male athletes.”

Building on the success of the 2021 program, PepsiCo has been able to:

· Benefit more than 9,000 athletes and coaches in the first year alone; and increase from 11 teams in 2021 to 16 teams in this second year.
· Provide players with new gear and safety equipment.
· Offer student-athlete mentorship opportunities with highly regarded athletes, team executives and soccer business leaders.
· Unlock access to local facilities and provide resources for field maintenance, including installing lighting.
· Cover competition and referee fees.
· Provide coaches with educational opportunities to refine and optimize their leadership skills.

In the lead up to the 2021-2022 UEFA Champions League final, PepsiCo will amplify stories from the 16 organizations through a content series that will be distributed across broadcast, social and digital platforms to provide more visibility on the impact of each dollar donated.

Prominent Soccer & Baseball Owner Gary Green Teams With Jet Linx Aviation In ‘Fly Like An Owner’ Sweepstakes

Prominent businessman Gary Green is living the dream of every sports fan as the owner of four professional sports teams: the United Soccer League’s Union Omaha, and MiLB’s Omaha Storm Chasers, Richmond Flying Squirrels and Montgomery Biscuits. Now, the native New Yorker is teaming with Jet Linx Aviation – founded in Omaha, Nebraska with a New York flagship terminal in Teterboro, NJ – to share that dream with sports fans.

The recently-launched “Fly Like An Owner” sweepstakes will send two fans from both Omaha teams to accompany Green on a private Jet Linx plane to road games with the owner.

“As a sports fan, when I became a team owner it was a dream come true,” said Green. “I am excited to share that feeling with a lucky Storm Chasers and Union Omaha fans, and am so appreciative of the partnership with Jet Linx to make that possible.” For more information and complete rules, please visit www.omahastormchasers.com/contests.

The soccer contest began on the first home match on April 23 and continues through the August 31 match against Forward Madison at Werner Park. Every fan that attends a home match will automatically be entered in the contest. The winner will get to select one guest to bring along for the trip which will take place on one of three dates: Sunday, September 11 at FC Tucson; Wednesday, September 21 at Northern Colorado Hailstorm FC; Saturday, October 1 at North Carolina FC.

The baseball sweepstakes began with the Storm Chasers’ April 12 homestand against the Louisville Bats and will continue through the August 23 homestand against the Scranton Wilkes-Barre RailRiders. Every fan that attends a home game at Werner Park in Omaha will automatically be entered in the contest. The winner will get to select one guest to bring along for the trip which will take place when the Storm Chasers visit the Columbus Clippers on Saturday, September 17, 2022.

“We are proud to partner Union Omaha and the Omaha Storm Chasers, both beloved and engaging community institutions that offer the kind of entertainment and inspiration that helps attract top talent to our area,” said Jamie Walker, President and CEO of Jet Linx Aviation. “As an Omaha-based company, we are excited to support the fan-base of these teams through the ‘Fly Like An Owner’ contest, and to introduce their supporters to the Five-Star service of Jet Linx and the opportunities in private aviation.”

For Soccer Ventures and American Outlaws Announce Strategic Partnership

For Soccer Ventures (FSV), the largest independent soccer media and experiences company in the United States, has established a first-of-its-kind Preferred Partnership with The American Outlaws (AO), a 20,000-member organization dedicated to supporting U.S. Soccer women’s, men’s, youth, and extended national teams. This partnership provides AO access to the incomparable soccer-focused creative, content and commercial resources of FSV as both organizations look to partner with brands, platforms, and publishers to grow the sport of soccer in the United States.

“Our North Star is to grow the sport of soccer in the United States, and no one has done more to establish fandom in the grassroots than the American Outlaws. It has been our goal since our founding to find ways to work with and support AO, and we couldn’t be more excited with this opportunity,” said John Parker, FSV Chief Operating Officer and former American Outlaw chapter president. “With this Preferred Partnership, AO and FSV will work together to develop opportunities for brands, platforms, and partners who wish to invest in the growth of soccer in America in such a way that we can provide further value for AO membership as well as its philanthropic arm, AO Impact, much like we did in our previous partnership.”

For Soccer Ventures will immediately begin work with AO leadership to innovate and develop opportunities that prioritize the fan experience and growth of chapter-based support of the US national soccer teams. FSV will then represent these opportunities on behalf of AO with brand, platform and publishing partners.

“In recent months, our relationship with FSV not only has benefited our members by providing easier access to viewing our away World Cup qualifiers, but also helped us create opportunities for our greater community to enjoy the game we love by funding AO Impact-funded programs,” said Justin Brunken, AO President and co-founder. “We’re excited to work with FSV to identify more opportunities with partners that provide value to our members – and who provide our 200-plus chapters with programs that will grow local support for all U.S. National Teams.”

FSV is coming off a record year of growth in 2021. This growth includes the acquisitions of Alianza de Futbol (the largest Hispanic soccer program in America), Footycon and The Association (first of its kind soccer-meets-lifestyle festivals and events series), and the launch of the Black Star Initiative. FSV also partnered with some of the biggest brands in the world: adidas, Pepsi, Lays, Verizon, CBS Sports/Paramount+, Allstate, EA Sports, Ford, Topps, Umbro, Chevron and Gatorade.

Founded in 2007, the American Outlaws is the largest unofficial supporters group of the U.S. women’s, men’s, youth, and extended national teams. A nonprofit organization, its members work to build a community around soccer in the 200+ communities its chapters call home. You can find AO supporting the national teams behind the goal of every U.S. Men’s and Women’s National Team game.

NWSL Rookie of the Year Trinity Rodman Partners with Youth Athletes United

Youth Athletes United, one of America’s fastest-growing multi-sport programs, with 291 territories nationwide and more than 200,000 children instructed each year, continues to catch on in communities throughout the U.S. The multi-brand franchisor includes Soccer Stars, Amazing Athletes, TGA Premier Sports, Little Rookies Baseball and JumpBunch. Now, the 2021 U.S. Soccer Young Female Player of the Year, Trinity Rodman, a former Amazing Athlete’s program participant, will be a Brand Ambassador for all of the Youth Athletes United programs.

“Trinity has an authentic tie to our brand, as Amazing Athletes was one of the multi-sport programs she took as a child, and knows first hand how sports impact childrens’ lives and development,” said Adam Geisler, CEO of Youth Athletes. “We are thrilled to have her as an ambassador as we continue to grow our brands.”

Rodman, now 19 years old, plays forward for the NWSL’s Washington Spirit and is the youngest player ever drafted in league history. The 2021 NWSL Rookie of the Year, Rodman was named to the NWSL’s Best XI First Team and recently made her USWNT debut during the 2022 SheBelieves Cup. The professional soccer player says she paved her way to success through consistent training, proper nutrition and knowing the value of teamwork — all values that Youth Athletes United teaches its young athletes in its multi-sport programs.

“Sports have always been a part of me and my family’s life,” said Rodman. “Experiencing different sports at an early age is what allowed me to find my passion for soccer. To be able to take my experiences and partner with Amazing Athletes and Soccer Stars to impact kids all across the country is very exciting. I hope I can inspire more youth athletes to continue to be active and follow their own path in sports.”

Since 2006, Amazing Athletes — the nation’s premier multi-sport education provider — has offered year-round programming that introduces kids to the fundamentals of 10 sports and helps them master six key areas of motor development and physical literacy. With expert coaches operating in top schools and facilities across more than 32 states, Amazing Athletes is on a mission to keep kids active with engaging content that teaches them about life skills, teamwork and nutrition.

For over 20 years, Soccer Stars has been one of the nation’s most popular youth soccer programs for children ages 1–16. The youth soccer program is set in a fun, non-competitive environment, with additional development and travel programs. Soccer Stars’ crib-to-college programming introduces young athletes to the fundamentals of soccer with a unique, age-specific curriculum designed to improve soccer skills, build self-confidence and develop socialization skills.

Youth Athletes United will utilize Rodman as a Brand Ambassador through live and dedicated social media, video content, local franchise clinics, and personal appearances. Matt Stefan, Director of National Marketing, noted that Amazing Athletes and Soccer Stars will hold Rodman-co-branded clinics and classes for franchisees to encourage more young players to participate in youth sports offered by the brands.

Rodman and Youth Athletes United will also work alongside franchisees in a concerted effort to help drive more free Soccer for All programs to communities that do not have access or exposure to soccer or multi-sport programs.

“We believe that every kid is an athlete,” said Stefan. “With 20-plus-years of experience creating fun, engaging content, our goal is to impact more than one million kids a year through our programs. Ultimately, we want to encourage children not only to participate in sports, but to help them find their passion that keeps them playing and staying active. With Trinity joining us as a Brand Ambassador, sharing her success and showing the impact youth sports can have, we’re on the right path.”

Washington Spirit Announce Partnership with RealResponse For Secure Reporting, Feedback, Monitoring

The Washington Spirit have partnered with RealResponse (@RealResponseHQ), the award-winning leading safe and secure feedback, monitoring and anonymous reporting platform for athletic teams and organizations.

RealResponse will allow both players and staff in the organization to anonymously report feedback and concerns. In addition to the league as a whole, the Spirit will join OL Reign and Racing Louisville as the only clubs directly affiliated with RealResponse.

“RealResponse allows our players and staff to communicate concerns or feedback in a way that respects their privacy and creates accountability for the organization,” said Spirit President Ben Olsen. “We worked with the team captains to make sure this platform aligns with the needs of the players, and look forward to the ways in which RealResponse will help drive our organization forward.”

“We are humbled to be an integral part of the Washington Spirit’s investment in the wellbeing of their players and staff,” said David Chadwick, the founder of RealResponse. “We commend the Spirit management for how they collaborated with their player leadership as a part of this selection process, and making sure that they were aligned on the best solution to meet their needs. We are continually seeing how important it is to be proactive in this critical area, and we welcome the Washington Spirit for recognizing the need and making this commitment by implementing RealResponse. This will be a year where we believe the NWSL and women’s sports are prime for unprecedented growth, and the Spirit taking this major step for confidential and accessible feedback sends a great message to all involved about how important the voice of the players is to the organization.”

While RealResponse’s partnership with the league allows players to anonymously communicate concerns or feedback  with the league directly, the Spirit’s partnership will allow for that level of  communication and organizational accountability  at the club level.

Stars Including Ferguson, Press Come Out To Mark World Aids Day At Grassroot Soccer Charity Gala

To mark today’s World AIDS Day, celebrities, footballers, and leaders in business and media came together on Tuesday to support a fundraising gala evening for international football/soccer charity Grassroot Soccer (@GrassrootSoccer) at Ziegfeld Ballroom in Manhattan. The international charity has used soccer/football as a platform to educate over 13 million young people in 60 countries around the world about health issues, including the dangers and preventative measures of one of the greatest health challenges in Africa: HIV/AIDS. The evening raised an estimated more than $1.4 million for the organization.

Among the standout dignitaries on hand were Sir Alex Ferguson, CBE, Legendary Football Manager; Christen Press, 2x World Champion with the US Women’s National Team; Ethan Zohn, Grassroot Soccer Co-Founder and winner of “Survivor Africa”; Dr. Tommy Clark, GRS Founder and CEO; Seth Meyers, television host, TV personality; Kweku Mandela, grandson of Nelson Mandela; and many others.

“To be able to bring everyone here to New York City for Giving Tuesday and World Aids day is just an incredible feeling,” said Zohn. “We’ve all been locked down and in isolation for a really long time so it just feels really good to bring everyone together to celebrate the beautiful sport of soccer and the incredible things we are doing around the world.”

“Soccer is without question the biggest sport in the world,” said Ferguson. “Grassroot Soccer is using the sport as a template to impact the most people. What Tommy Clark has undertaken is a fantastic challenge, and for me, it’s easy to get involved in something which is so honest and benefits so many in poverty.”

“It’s really nice I have friends who are involved with the event who reached out and when they explained what Grassroot was it was a no brainer,” added Meyers. “Then, to have soccer royalty on the scene, it’s a great way to spend an evening.”

Other notable guests included Dr. Phumzile Mlambo-Ngucka, Former UN Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director of UN Women, Founder Of Umlambo Foundation; Roger Bennett, Writer, Broadcaster, Filmmaker, and Co-Host of NBC’s Men In Blazers Show; GoldFish (Dominic Peters & David Poole), DJ duo; Fiona Ferguson, GRS Champion; Gregg Lemkau, GRS Champion and former board member; Kyle Martino, MLS commentator, former USA and MLS Soccer star; Hamza Syed, Host & Producer of New York Times Serial Podcast; and Jason Feitelberg, Head of Investment at Sterling Resources.

The event provided guests the opportunity to learn about Grassroot Soccer’s vital programs in Africa to educate and inspire young people to live healthier lives and give them hope for the future.

There was fierce bidding in the silent auction. Among the hottest prizes of the night were VIP tickets to the Late Show with Seth Meyers, a Chelsea FC matchday experience including a post-game meet and greet with Christian Pulisic, a dinner party with former Obama White House chef Sam Kass, and a signed print from artist Andre Saraiva.

Grassrooot Soccer has provided health education, access to testing, and support for treatment to over 150,000 young people in the past year, with programs in countries with the highest levels of HIV in the world, including its flagship projects in South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe, plus other nations with a high HIV rate such as Nigeria, Malawi, and many more.

“It’s amazing to see this,” added Clark. “A couple of reasons why I think it’s been successful is I think it’s a simple idea, it’s a good idea, but I think it’s the hard work of a lot of people if you really really think about it.”

For Soccer Ventures Announces Topps, 47 Brand, Umbro Among Partner Lineup for FootyCon, November 10

For Soccer Ventures (FSV) today announced the lineup for FootyCon, a soccer and lifestyle digital festival taking place exclusively on the NTWRK app at 2 p.m. PT / 5 p.m. ET on Wednesday, November 10.

FootyCon was founded by Curtis Brown and Ben Hooper to unite the diverse communities of the sport of soccer through art, fashion, and culture. The festival on NTWRK will bring together consumers from around the globe and give them access to exclusive products as well as the chance to engage with cultural tastemakers, personalities, and players with deep ties to the sport.

“We’re thrilled to reveal the lineup for the inaugural FootyCon festival,” said Heath Pearce, Chief Creative Officer at FSV. “We know fans of the game and its culture will connect and engage with the creators and brands that are participating and we’re excited to host a great event with NTWRK.”

As part of the announcement, Topps was also revealed as the exclusive collectible partner of FootyCon. Topps and FootyCon will collaborate and feature unique content and exclusive giveaways to fans from its Major League Soccer, UEFA Champions League, and Bundesliga collections during the buildup to the festival and the event itself.

“Topps is excited to partner with FSV for their inaugural FootyCon festival,” said Emily Kless, Topps Communications Manager. “FootyCon provides a unique opportunity for football fans to connect from anywhere in the world, and we’re proud that Topps trading cards are featured as the medium in which to unite creators, brands and fans alike.”

NTWRK presents FootyCon – Festival Lineup, Nov. 10

47 Brand – Premier sports lifestyle brand founded in Boston, Ma. that uniquely melds sport and style.

Angel City FC – Angel City Football Club is a member of NWSL and will take the pitch in Spring 2022 in Downtown Los Angeles. Angel City seeks to set higher expectations on and off the pitch through equality and impact. This is a different way of building a sporting club where mission and capital can coexist and make positive change in the community.

The Black Star Initiative – The Black Star Initiative has been developed to accelerate the growth of soccer in Black American communities and to increase access and opportunity in the sport at the grassroots level, while celebrating and amplifying the diverse Black soccer culture.

Bumpy Pitch – Purveyors of gourmet soccer culture.

Fan Ink – Fi Collection is an official licensed premium football (soccer) inspired lifestyle collection, with a focus on head-wear and accessories that express our passion of the sport and club.

FC Dorsum – F.C. Dorsum is a Los Angeles based brand conceptualized around a fictitious football club to fill the void between football and fashion.

Kicks to the Pitch – Kicks to the Pitch represents the future of soccer through sneakers, fashion, music and art.

LA Galaxy – The most celebrated and decorated club in Major League Soccer.  From uniting a city in ’96 through winning five MLS Cups, the Galaxy have made a lasting impact in the global game and united Angelenos for over 25 years.

LAFC – LAFC is dedicated to building a world-class soccer club that represents the diversity of Los Angeles and is committed to delivering an unrivaled experience for fans. LAFC’s ownership group is comprised of local leaders and innovators of industry with intellectual capital, financial prowess, operations expertise, and success in the fields of entertainment, sports, technology, and media.

NR – Heritage Italian sports brand rooted in style and soccer.

Oakland Roots – Oakland Roots Sports Club seeks to harness the magic of Oakland and the power of sport as a force for social good. Whether on the pitch, in the stands, or within the community, Oakland Roots will represent our one-of-a-kind city with passion, pride, and commitment to all things Oakland.

Umbro – Umbro founder Harold Humphreys believed that style was a performance advantage – if you look smart, you play smart – a belief we retain today, combining stylish and technical team and street wear with a professional service for all.

Venice Beach FC – Venice Beach Football Club is a community of dreamers, drifters, nobodies and somebodies; home to champions, rising stars, beach bums, and everything in between.

Additional participants in FootyCon will be announced at a later date.

About For Soccer Ventures

For Soccer Ventures (FSV) is a new media company, leading a collaborative movement to connect brands and platforms to the diverse American soccer community through immersive storytelling, properties, activations and strategic services. Uniquely positioned within the industry, the company’s mission is to advance soccer in the United States, both on and off the field. FSV’s host of capabilities and properties are aimed at putting the fan and player first. FSV’s current properties and investments include Major League Soccer’s Philadelphia Union, Alianza de Futbol, Black Star Initiative, FootyCon, The Association, JUGOtv, YSC Academy, YSC Sports, APL Leagues and Tournaments, Best Soccer Show Podcast, Orange Slices Podcast, and the FSV Soccer Influencer Network.

About NTWRK

Named one of Fast Company’s Most Innovative Companies and Ad Age’s Hottest Brands, NTWRK is the premier North American livestream shopping platform where “entertainment meets e-commerce” (Forbes). Built on a digitally-innovative model of daily product drops, livestream shopping festivals and exclusive partnerships with world-renowned brands and creators, NTWRK has fostered an organic global community of artists and fans since its launch in 2018. Under the motto “Shopping At The Speed of Culture,” NTWRK provides a curated digital shopping experience and access for Gen-Z and millennial consumers.

Entain Increases Investment in Exclusive and Innovative Content for Customers

Entain, the leading global sports betting and gaming entertainment operator, is doubling investment in its in-house games studios to accelerate and expand its ability to provide customers with new and exclusive products and experiences.

Headcount will double to around 300 people across Entain’s three in-house studios in the UK, Italy, and India within a year, to deliver exciting, exclusive new products and experiences across all its markets, including the U.S.  CR Games, Entain’s UK games studio based near Oldham, Manchester, will initially create 8 new roles taking its headcount close to 50.

New content includes free to play slots tournaments, believed to be the first of their kind, giving customers a great choice of free games to play and win cash prizes.  Over 30,000 customers of Entain’s Coral brand in the UK entered in June following launch, with international customers of Gala, Party and bwin expected to join over the summer.

Following the recent sponsorship between its PartyCasino and PartyPoker brands and McLaren, customers will get exclusive access to Formula 1 themed casino content and games later this year. Entain is also developing new experiences for customers using immersive technologies, and plans to upweight this capability at its in-house studios. The Group’s first VR product for customers – a multi-activity sports club – is due later in the year.

“We love giving our customers great experiences and exciting entertainment as that is the bedrock of what we do.” said Jette Nygaard-Andersen, Chief Executive of Entain. “Increasing our investment across all three of our in-house games studios will provide more of that for our customers across all our global brands.”

“By widening our offer with new and exclusive games, such as free-to-play tournaments, we give existing and new customers more reasons to use our products.” added Jette Nygaard-Andersen. “This not only helps to grow our business but brings fresh insight, so we can further improve the offer for our customers.”

Over 70% of BetMGM customers in the U.S. enjoy using exclusive content from Entain, helping to make BetMGM the U.S. market leader in iGaming.  Among the most popular exclusive titles are MGM Grand Millions, Borgata Cash Spinner, Premium Blackjack Pro and Bison’s Fury slot game.  Win Studios based in Hyderabad, India, is developing 30 new products specifically for customers of BetMGM this year, adding to new games like BetMGM Blackjack Pro, BetMGM Roulette Pro, Book of Myths, The Win Genie, Eye of Hathor, and Platinum Blackjack Pro.

Entain’s studios are also adapting best-selling content for more international markets. Win Studios has tailored Entain’s core bingo product to create a unique sports-themed gaming experience for customers of its Sportingbet brand, for example, and CR Games is tailoring top-ranking proprietary games enjoyed in the UK for customers in Europe.

These now include new customers in the Baltic states, following the acquisition of Enlabs earlier this year. CR Games is versioning the latest release of its popular “Big Banker” game for customers of Optibet in Latvia and bwin customers in other parts of Europe. The studio is also creating new recreational games for the mass market, in the UK and elsewhere, including “Fiery Wilds”, a casino game which has already proved popular with players.

Colin Cole-Johnson, Entain Gaming Director, said: “Our priority is always to create exciting, engaging products that give our customers choice.  Not only does this enhance the experience for the millions of people who enjoy our products, but is an important driver of Entain’s growth. These exclusive, innovative, and tailored games are really valued by our customers.  Developing more of our own games means we have complete control over what goes into them, not just in giving our customers a great experience, but also keeping them safe”.

Entain has a third proprietary studio in Italy, Eurobet, which is also looking at customizing its most popular exclusive games in Italy to support Entain’s global growth.

cover image credit: Wikimedia/Lukas Raich

Captain Morgan, Fanduel Announce Exclusive Soccer Contest Partnership

Captain Morgan and FanDuel have announced today the launch of the Captain Morgan Soccer Pick ‘Em contest series as one of the most highly anticipated seasons in the history of the United States and Canada’s top-flight professional soccer league gets underway. Fans across the country have been waiting months to settle back into their gameday routines, and this season, they’ll be able to play for a chance to win cash prizes as they cheer on their teams each week.

On Saturdays (and other designated days) throughout the 2021 regular season and postseason, the Captain Morgan Soccer Pick ‘Em contest series will offer fans 21 and up the chance to win cash prizes† by making quick predictions about the day’s matches and earning points for each correct pick. Prizes will be awarded each week, and even if you don’t score with all of your picks, you could still take home a share‡ of up to $3,000 in total winnings!†

“Enthusiasm for the game of soccer in America is at an all-time high, and we’re so excited to be working with Captain Morgan as our first soccer partner ahead of what will undoubtedly be a season to remember,” said Alyssa Zeleznik, VP of Sponsorship & Advertising Sales, FanDuel. “We are fully aligned with Captain Morgan in that we both strive to give fans a fun and engaging way to enhance their viewing experience, and we can’t wait to get this season going with the Captain Morgan Soccer Pick ‘Em.”

“All of us at Captain Morgan have been looking forward to this season for several months now, and we know there are millions of soccer fans out there who are as eager as we are to see teams back in action at their home stadiums once again,” said Sam Salameh, Vice President Captain Morgan. “We know soccer fans are some of the most passionate in all of sports, and we can’t wait to help fuel that passion. We’re so thrilled to have found a partner in FanDuel that will help us offer fans new ways to consume and engage with the game we all love this season.”

In addition to the Captain Morgan Soccer Pick ‘Em contest series, Captain Morgan will also be activating across various platforms throughout the season to remind soccer fans to Sub in the Captain for any monotonous, bland or just plain boring elements of their gameday routines that may be in need of a refresh. As soccer fans know best, substitutions are a key part of any match – managers must make the decision to bring on the right players at the right times, whether it be for tactical reasons or to give the team a necessary spark.

This season, Captain Morgan encourages fans to take the same approach when managing their drink choices. When your gameday routine becomes flat and sluggish, introduce some variety and spice things up by subbing in a Captain Morgan cocktail that’s fun and delicious. With a new season comes an opportunity for new traditions, new experiences and making new memories, so no matter what team you’re rooting for this year, be sure to Sub in the Captain and make it one to remember with Captain Morgan.

Chicago Fire FC Becomes First MLS Club to Launch Gambling Awareness Session

Chicago Fire FC, entering into their 24th season in Major League Soccer, have become the first football club in the United States to deliver problem gambling and gaming awareness sessions to teams throughout their organization through a partnership with EPIC Risk Management and Entain Foundation US, Entain plc’s unique non-profit subsidiary that is dedicated to promoting responsible gambling and sports integrity.

Epic Risk Management will lead sessions with the Chicago Fire’s U-13’s through U-19’s, plus the first team. Each session will be appropriately tailored for the varied audience and age groups through the Club’s roster, covering issues such as problem gaming, disordered gambling and sports betting integrity.

Delivery of these sessions will begin in May and continue throughout 2021, aiming to provide continued support across Chicago Fire’s P.A.S.S. program. Due to COVID-19, sessions will take place via videoconference and move to in-person sessions when safely allowed.

“We know that young athletes are at greater risk of being effected by problematic gaming and gambling, and we recognize the need to take a proactive approach to educating our players and parents on these risks,.” sSays Brian Roberts, Director of Performance, Advisory and Support Services (P.A.S.S.) at Chicago Fire FC. “The real-life stories that EPIC Risk Management use in their educational sessions brings focus to gambling in a way that will have a true impact and will provide our Academy players with the understanding needed to make informed decisions. We are excited to work with an organization open to customizing an approach to educating our Academy players.”

“We are delighted to be able to work closely with Chicago Fire and their Performance, Advisory, and Support Services (PASS) staff to customize our program to integrate into their existing PASS Education,.” says John Millington, VP of US Operations at EPIC Risk Management. “Our collaboration with the Entain Foundation US represents a key strategic piece of our prevention pillar. It is essential that professional sports teams and leagues recognize a collective responsibility to educate their players, staff, and their fan base, and we are delighted Chicago Fire have proactively embraced the importance of integrating this market leading education into their existing programs. I hope many more teams will follow their lead.”

Martin Lycka, Entain plc’s Senior Vice President for American Regulatory Affairs and Responsible Gambling, and trustee of the Entain Foundation US, noted, “This new partnership among Chicago Fire FC, EPIC Risk Management and the Entain Foundation US is another important milestone in promoting player protection and responsible gambling—a top priority of our Foundation. I am proud to affiliate our Foundation in the US with these two outstanding partners.”

To date, EPIC Risk Management and the Entain Foundation US have launched collaborations with the NFLPA Professional Athletes Foundation, colleges across the U.S., and the Division on Addiction at Cambridge Health Alliance, a Harvard Medical School teaching hospital, on research into elite athletes’ relationships with problematic gambling behavior.

cover image: credit Michael Barera

Social media no longer social for UK soccer clubs as the BGC steps in

It’s difficult to imagine a more vanilla gambling industry than that which some want to create in the U.K. As the country emerges from Brexit and struggles to stand on its own two feet, it doesn’t seem to be too concerned with shutting off potential wellsprings of revenue. Most notably, there appears to be an overzealous push by certain individuals in positions of power to hobble the gaming industry, with new restrictions, regulations, prohibitions and more constantly being introduced. Some authority figures must lay awake at night trying to think of how else they can go after gambling. In the latest move, the Betting and Gaming Council (BGC) has implemented new rules for soccer clubs that essentially prevent them from using social media platforms to discuss sports gambling.

SBC News reports that several soccer teams have acknowledged receipt of a letter from the BGC that describes a new code of conduct. In it, the clubs aren’t to use their official social media accounts to promote gambling offers or sports gambling operators. The new code will become effective as of March 1 and will prohibit the use of calls to action or gambling website links in organic tweets from the clubs, and will also prohibit the clubs from displaying any type of direct bonus or gambling odds in organic tweets. The only exception to that is if the club can guarantee the campaign won’t be seen by anyone under the age of 18 – something that is impossible unless social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter become more socially responsible.

The BGC’s move was reportedly prompted by concerns that some social media users with gambling problems might feel “distressed” if they were to see gambling info while perusing their social media feeds. If that’s the case, then perhaps any type of advertising that displays junk food should be dismissed, as well, since it would undoubtedly distress those with weight issues. Or, perhaps no Valentine’s Day advertising should be allowed, as it might distress those who are suffering from a break-up.

The latest code of conduct follows initiatives introduced last year that were designed to reduce gambling exposure. Gaming operators “voluntarily” began suspending TV and radio ads as a result of the COVID-19 and, at the insistence of the BGC, provided alterations to their advertising programs in order to target marketing efforts away from those under 18 years of age. The new implementation is an extension of that, and likely not the last, and BGC Chair Brigid Simmonds asserts, “Football clubs are an important part of the sporting fabric of this country, followed by millions of all ages on social media. Our members rightly have a zero tolerance approach to gambling by under-18s, so as an industry we are understandably concerned that children may be exposed to betting adverts on social media platforms. Our new guidelines make clear the standards expected of football clubs when they post gambling promotions on social media, and I look forward to them being put into practice as soon as possible.”

English soccer club partners with a cryptocurrency sportsbook

While many people still reject the idea of digital currency, more indications arrive every day that the fiat alternative will soon take its rightful place alongside other currency options. Cryptocurrency is the logical next step in money, especially in a world where more and more activity goes digital, and there continues to be more interest in crypto as a means of payment. The latest example comes by way of the UK’s Premier League, where Southampton FC has tapped into its existing relationship with a crypto sportsbook to expand its operations.

Southampton has signed on with Sportsbet.io, which is owned by the Coingaming Group, to offer a new VIP alternative for fans of the team. The sportsbook provides several unique, crypto-based sports gambling solutions and, going forward, the soccer club will have access to those options. Team fans will be able to become more involved in crypto and take advantage of Sportsbet.io’s virtual reality technology to “recreate the magic of matchday, at home.”

Coingaming Group founder Tim Heath explains, “We think cryptocurrency has a big future in football and we’re right behind it. Alongside fan experiences like this, we’ve just seen the first Bitcoin transfer take place where a footballer was purchased using cryptocurrency and signed for DUX Internacional de Madrid, and earlier this year NFL pro footballer Russell Okung said he’s getting his salary in Bitcoin. We’re likely to see more of the same – from clubs finding new ways to engage with fans on a match day to the way business is done at the top of the game.”

Southampton fans and influencers will also be given an unspecified “Bitcoin value” that can be used by the recipients to create their own VIP experiences, including options such as front-row seats at practices or stadium tours with players. The new initiative began to be explored late last year and Southampton hopes to be able to include additional perks as 2021 unfolds. The club’s chief commercial officer, David Thomas, adds, “As a club our digital approach has always looked to redefine the content status-quo and we were excited at the shared values between ourselves and the Sportsbet.io team. The work that is currently ongoing is a pleasure to be involved with and we want to ensure as many of our fans are experiencing that St Mary’s nostalgia as possible. We cannot wait for the full return of our fans but in the meantime, Sportsbet.io [has] found an innovative way to ensure our club and fans can stay connected.”

UEFA Champions League may be getting a Swiss makeover

The UEFA Champions League might be getting a Swiss makeover. UEFA reportedly met with some European stakeholders last Friday to discuss the Champions League, as well as the Europa League and the Conference League. The question at hand is whether the distribution of games is currently equitable to all teams and, if everyone agrees that it isn’t, the “Swiss” system could be introduced beginning in 2024.

SBC News, citing the PA news agency, reports that UEFA may be considering getting rid of the existing round-robin format for teams, which results in some qualifying teams having extra room on the schedule. If approved, the new format would include 225 games, instead of the 125 found now, and would also increase the number of teams in the group stages from 32 to 36. The top eight teams would then automatically qualify for the last 16, and the following 16 would battle it out for the final eight spots in the competition.

An extra spot would be given to the French league, with the remaining places to be distributed using UEFA’s “coefficient” ranking system, as well as historic performances. Provided all of these attributes are applied, there could potentially be six clubs involved in the Champions League, something that has become a polarizing topic of discussion. Former UEFA President and current European Leagues President Lars-Christer Olsson supports the idea, asserting, “I think it could be possible to squeeze another four dates into the calendar if we can see what kind of effect it is having on national team matches and other things, but it’s too early to say now, it needs to be part of our negotiations.”

The global soccer industry is undergoing a transformation and it’s going to be difficult to prevent it from continuing. That doesn’t stop some from trying, though, and FIFA has been critical about any moves that would change the paradigm. When Premier League and La Liga teams started talking about joining a new super league last year, FIFA was happy and told players this past January that they would be banned from participating in the World Cup if they chose to play in any new competition.

FSV Makes Major Push In Hispanic Engagement With Acquisition of Alianza de Futbol and JUGOtv

JUGOtv

For Soccer Ventures (FSV), an organization focused on the growth and long-term development of American soccer, today announced it has completed the acquisition of Alianza de Futbol and JUGOtv, groundbreaking Hispanic soccer companies engaging with and offering opportunities for the underserved Hispanic soccer community in the U.S.

For nearly two decades, Alianza de Futbol implements identification programs, coaching clinics, and tournaments in Hispanic communities throughout the U.S. that have historically existed outside of the traditional structure of American soccer. These programs have offered the opportunity for participation to male and female players, and led to the identification of dozens of future professional players such as Mexico’s National Team player Jonathan González. JUGOtv has operated as the content studio and social media arm of Alianza de Futbol, featuring one of the premier American Hispanic social channels.

“As we set about our mission to transform soccer in America, we began identifying the entities and the stakeholders who’d been doing it successfully for years. Alianza de Futbol and JUGOtv are the benchmarks for creating a more inclusive American soccer community,” FSV founder and Philadelphia Union investor Richie Graham said. “As part of FSV, we hope to bring these organizations closer to the fold with our partners, offering even greater opportunities for Hispanic soccer players in the U.S. and establishing a richer and more robust soccer community for everyone.”

Founded in 2004 by Richard Copeland and Brad Rothenberg, the son of former US Soccer Federation President and 1994 FIFA World Cup organizer Alan Rothenberg, Alianza de Futbol has been a one-of-a-kind opportunity for male and female soccer players outside of the traditional club system in the U.S. Since the program’s launch, players have come from 46 states and more than one thousand U.S. cities, connecting over 3.2 million hispanic families to the Alianza de Futbol community. Additionally, over seventy seven alumni have gone on to play professionally and twenty three have received youth national team invitations.

Working with commercial partners, Alianza de Futbol hosts weekend long activations in Hispanic communities throughout the country that feature tournaments for youth and adults and identification programs for players hoping to take the next step in their career, all at little to no cost. Guest appearances from legends of the game such as Carlos ‘Pibe” Valderrama and Jorge Campos, brand activations, and more round out an experience that often draws more than a quarter of a million attendees per year.

As part of the FSV portfolio, Alianza de Futbol and JUGOtv will leverage relationships with organizations such as Major League Soccer and US Soccer Federation to expand opportunities for its participants.

“We’re beyond excited to join the FSV team,” said Joaquin Escoto, Managing Director of Alianza de Futbol. “The future of soccer in America is so bright, and we’re thrilled to be joining FSV on their mission to ensure all communities are part of that future. FSV are the perfect partners to help amplify our impact in bringing the Hispanic community closer to the most important organizations in American soccer.”

Additionally, FSV’s unrivaled creative, American soccer storytelling and strategic capabilities will provide Alianza de Futbol a greater platform to evangelize their transformative work in grassroots soccer, while also connecting them to new brands and advertising agencies.

New initiatives that expand upon Alianza de Futbol, both on-and-off the field, will be announced by FSV in the forthcoming months.

For Soccer Ventures Debuts ‘Orange Slices,’ Hosted by Emerging USMNT, Phila Union star Mark McKenzie

For Soccer Ventures (FSV), an organization focused on the growth and long-term development of American soccer, today announced the official launch of “Orange Slices,” a new podcast hosted by former US Men’s National Team player and Major League Soccer All-Star Heath Pearce and twenty one year old emerging U.S. international Mark McKenzie of the Philadelphia Union. The podcast celebrates the past, present, and future of American soccer through generational storytelling and unprecedented access to rising U.S. stars around the world. “Orange Slices” is FSV’s second podcast, joining “Best Soccer Show” hosted by Jason Davis and Jared Dubois.

The first two episodes feature 2020 Bayern Munich defender and current UEFA Champions League player Chris Richards, and former U.S. National Team and Rangers midfielder Maurice Edu. Both will discuss their experiences playing abroad, representing American soccer to global audiences, their personal and professional challenges, and the effort to rebuild the fan base and trust of the National Team after the tumultuous 2018 World Cup Qualifying campaign. The two shows will debut on all podcast platforms, including Spotify and iTunes on December 9th.

“Our goal with ‘Orange Slices’ is to dive deeper into the challenges and opportunities facing the current generation of players as both elite athletes and outspoken personalities in a time of global cultural change,” Pearce, who is also FSV’s Chief Creative Officer, said. “My role is to provide Mark and our guests with a bit of perspective on where we’ve come from as a soccer nation, and to help guide a lively conversation that takes fans beyond the on-field discussion. Our athletes have a lot to say, and this podcast provides a megaphone to connect with the diverse soccer community in this country.”

“It’s exceedingly rare for an up-and-coming player like me to have the platform not only to share my experiences with the Union and the USMNT, but also those of my peers, who may actually have a very different experience themselves,” McKenzie added. “’These episodes aren’t just for fans, but also a younger audience seeking great storytelling. In many ways these are universal stories of the struggles and successes and lives of athletes, many of whom I admire and work with, and continue to learn from as well. We think it will be a unique narrative journey many will enjoy and share.”

Through rotating segments, the show will explore the unique culture of American soccer, from the muddy fields and halftime orange slices of youth soccer to the biggest games won and lost on the world’s stage. Each episode will incorporate classic stories and learning examples with a fresh perspective from the younger generation reshaping the game in America.

Maradona’s autograph one of the most expensive in football

Even in his passing, the signature of Maradona remains one the most expensive in football. According to gamblingdeals.com, a signature from the ‘Hand of God’ is more valuable than an autograph from Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo.

Soccer fans globally will go the extra mile to grab their piece of sporting memorabilia. Maradona’s signature is valued at £582.07, ahead of Lionel Messi (£511.91) and Cristiano Ronaldo (£464.93).

Surprisingly, it’s another modern-day Argentinean striker, with a Maradona connection that has the most expensive signature in football. Former son-in-law, and Manchester City striker Sergio Aguero. A piece of memorabilia signed by the Manchester City forward is valued at an eye-watering £1,363.71.

Coming in at second place is English football icon, David Beckham. The former Manchester United icon’s signature remains a prized commodity amongst fans, willing to pay £999.99 to get his signature on a Manchester United shirt.

Soccer games get a kick from Bodog bettors this past weekend

The trend that started when NFL and college football action got underway continues on Bodog, with the sportsbook seeing most of the action on football games this past weekend. However, soccer matches in both North America and Europe also proved to be enticing and made an impact on the final numbers. Although they didn’t capture nearly as much attention as football, they still accounted for five of the top ten spots on the sportsbook. 

Heading the top-ten list on Bodog this weekend, the NFL maintained its usual spot with 42.64% of the wagers. Only slightly behind was college football, which captured 42.01% of the bets. Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), which featured Deiveson Figueiredo and Alex Perez in the flyweight main event (and even Beyonce’s “Halo”), was a distant third at 4.37%. The ATP World Tour Finals took 3.41% as Daniil Medvedev overcame Dominic Thiem on Sunday for the single’s title. 

Soccer was then responsible for five of the remaining six spots, broken up only by table tennis, with 1.17%. Major League Soccer in North America grabbed 1.76% of the wagers, followed by the Premier League with 1.65%. Premier League Live wagers proved interesting, as well, getting 1.06% of the attention on Bodog. Germany and Spain made it on the list, as well, even if they only squeaked on. The German Bundesliga took 0.97% of the wagers, while Spain’s La Liga was responsible for 0.93%. 

It’s possible that, one day, soccer or basketball could prove to be as strong with gamblers as football, but that won’t happen anytime soon. On Bodog, the NFL game between the Kansas City Chiefs and the Las Vegas Raiders saw the most action, grabbing 26.53% of the share. As expected, the Chiefs won, but only by a four-point margin. The matchup between the Green Bay Packers and the Indianapolis Colts was also a hot one, taking 14.42% of the wagers. The Colts, favored to win at -125, pulled off an OT victory and now have their eyes firmly on a playoff spot.

Head of Paraguayan soccer club permanently booted from the sport

About the only thing left for Marco Antonio Trovato Villalba to do is dream about soccer. The president of Olimpia, a soccer club out of Paraguay, has been given a lifetime ban by FIFA from anything and everything related to the sport after he was found to have tried to rig games in an embarrassing match-fixing scandal. The embattled executive could choose to appeal the decision, but that isn’t likely to find much sympathy. 

FIFA’s Disciplinary Committee met about a week ago and cut in time to discuss Villalba and his antics. According to the committee’s notice, he was ultimately found guilty of “match manipulation and of failing to comply with his duty to collaborate during disciplinary proceedings in violation of the FIFA Disciplinary Code.” While it doesn’t explain how the match-fixing had taken place or which specific games were involved, the committee explains that the games had taken place in 2018 and 2019.

Villalba was determined to have violated two specific articles of FIFA’s Disciplinary Code, Article 18, which addresses manipulation of games, and Article 20, covering individuals’ obligations to respond to requests by FIFA regarding investigations into possible wrongdoing. Apparently, Olimpia’s leader decided he didn’t have to help the organization determine what had happened, which only incriminated him more. According to that same code, and its Article 56, Trovato Villalba has ten days to appeal, and that appeal will go before the same FIFA Appeal Committee that delivered his sentence. 

In addition to having been given the boot from soccer, Villalba will also have to break out the wallet. FIFA has slapped him with a fine of 100,000 Swiss Francs, or $108,520. It wasn’t clear if he will be forced to relinquish his seat as the president of Olimpia, which he had won during an election by the team’s shareholders in 2014. He took over for Oscar Carisimo Netto at the time, getting 1297 votes of the roughly 1516 that were cast. 

Forget soccer fans attending games in the UK this year, says Minister

The odds of being able to check out a Man U or Liverpool game in person this year just got really long. According to Michael Gove, the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, the idea of allowing fans to attend games is about as far-fetched as Messi signing with Sheffield. He made his remarks during a BBC Breakfast episode yesterday, explaining that reoccurring spikes of COVID-19 cases have forced the option of allowing fan participation at games to be taken off the table. 

Not having fans at sporting events is a huge financial blow, and stadiums and arenas everywhere have been hoping that they’d be able to open their doors to begin recovering the massive amounts of money they’ve lost this year because of coronavirus-induced shutdowns. This isn’t going to happen in the U.K., however, and the thought of allowing test groups, at reduced capacities, won’t be seen, either. As long as new cases continue to appear, such as that involving West Ham United’s manager and two players, there’s too much risk. 

Gove told BBC, “We’ve been piloting some open-air venues and we do want to be able in due course to allow people to return to watch football and other sporting events. We need to be cautious at the moment and I think a mass reopening at this stage wouldn’t be appropriate.” He added, “We were looking at a staged programme of more people returning – we weren’t going to have stadiums thronged with fans.”

With additional lockdowns possibly coming from Prime Minister Boris Johnson today, the sports industry in the U.K. is concerned about its future. It wants the government to step in and provide financial support, including investments, tax relief and regulatory reforms, and asserts that, absent these initiatives, the continued restrictions will only further take the industry down a slippery slope. It isn’t clear if the government has any plans to provide the assistance industry leaders are seeking; however, Gove believes that the help is warranted.