CONMEBOL, CONCACAF Champions League in the works - Riccardo Silva
MP & Silva co-founder Riccardo Silva says plans are under way to launch a Champions League-like tournament involving all of North America, South America and the Caribbean.
The international media rights giant's chief has revealed a project for a 64-team competition to mirror the UEFA Champions League's format, which could fetch an estimated $500 million in television and marketing rights -- quintupling the current annual take-ins for the CONCACAF Champions League and CONMEBOL's Copa Libertadores combined.
"The possibility of having U.S. teams compete against some of the best teams in Brazil and Argentina could help to raise the overall quality of football at an elevated rate," Silva told the Sports Business Daily. "The Americas also have a combined population that is 30 percent higher than that of Europe, which shows the commercial potential of this idea."
There is no timetable for the tournament to begin. However MP & Silva has already met with, and received pledges from, many of South America's largest clubs, including Flamengo and Corinthians, and has enlisted former NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue to aid in planned future meetings with U.S. Soccer, MLS and Liga MX.
"The concept of top North American soccer clubs competing against top South American clubs comes in the right moment for soccer's continuing strong development in the U.S. market," said Tagliabue, who has been appointed senior adviser to the project. "The Americas' international football traditions, legacies and extraordinary supporter base rank with the best in the world, but a solid league platform to globally showcase Americas' great soccer hasn't existed until now."
The targeted federations, CONMEBOL and CONCACAF, were hit particularly hard by the corruption case that rocked FIFA just months ago, and their association with the scandal could be seen as an impediment to moving the new project forward. But Silva believes the idea "makes too much sense" for all involved.
"If teams want to play in a competition, and broadcasters want to broadcast it, I don't see a reason for anyone to block it. Of course, everything must be in place, and everything must work for everyone, but if you look at the opportunities this could create for all parties involved, it makes too much sense," Silva said, who added that the competition has the potential to radically change the sport in the Americas.
"When you look at the money that could be involved and what will be provided to clubs, we believe this can be a turning point for soccer across the two continents," Silva said.