Leiwekes take a stand against Europe's U.S. soccer plans

Wed Oct 8, 2014 8:55am EDT
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By Mike Collett

LONDON (Reuters) - Brothers Tod and Tim Leiweke, two of the most powerful sports entrepreneurs in the United States, have questioned the value of European soccer clubs staging matches in the U.S. and Canada.

The brothers, who have been involved in American sports clubs across different codes, were reacting on Wednesday to a story in Britain's Daily Mail newspaper which suggested UEFA was considering staging mini-tournaments outside Europe.

Meanwhile, other media reports said English Premier League clubs have again discussed playing regular season games abroad.

The brothers said they welcomed the debate on the issue but told the Leaders in Sport Summit at Chelsea's Stamford Bridge stadium they were against UEFA's plans and the recent trend of European clubs playing pre-season friendlies in North America.

Tod, now the president of Tampa Bay Sports, said: "One of the challenges I've always thrown out there to the powers that be in football (soccer) is 'Will you be a pirate or will you be a pioneer?'

"Are you going to use North America just as an opportunity to make some additional dollars or are you going to commit to taking the sport to the next level and help to grow Major League Soccer?"

"In the case of Manchester City, they are doing a phenomenal job in New York. They begin playing next year. They've signed David Villa and Frank Lampard.

"At the same time, you look at the news about UEFA thinking about moving a meaningful series of games over to North America. Is that good or bad for Major League Soccer?   Continued...

Apr 14, 2014; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment CEO and president Tim Leiweke during a break in the action of a game between the Toronto Raptors and Milwaukee Bucks at the Air Canada Centre. Mandatory Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports