Monetize, commercialize and “Americanize” the stadiums of Europe? I say “Be careful what you ask for”


In terms of transfer news happening overnight – It’s not really “overnight” in Europe, see? So things, you know, “happen” – there were no big haymakers, only a few little jabs here and there.

In terms of potential U.S. players moving overseas, there wasn’t even that.

But one prominent newspaper took the opportunity to evaluate how a significant element of American sports definitely is being transferred overseas, if only bit by bit.

It’s the American ability to monetize a facility.

Personally, I do enjoy the older world European model, where a stadium is actually a place to play an athletic event, and for fans to actually get lost in an athletic event (rather than getting lost in a gooey bowl of nachos). You might get a beer or a hot chocolate before kickoff, and if you’re fast, you can sneak in a bonus refreshment at halftime. If you’re fast – because those lines inside the cramped concourses get long in a super-big hurry.

I don’t need to stock up on chicken tenders and all beef doggers or purchase bags full of memories. And I certainly don’t need to be up-sold the “premium experience,” whatever that is. (Jeezey-Pete, it’s a soccer game, not a Caribbean Cruise!)

But some people clearly like it and are willing to pay for it. Hence, the massive American football grounds with massive opportunity to throw down as much green as you darn well please. We enjoy our excess in American, and this is the reality of modern sports.

Now, the author of this piece in the Guardian, who works for a design firm that specializes in facility research, says Europeans are slowly getting better at emulating their American counterparts.

He uses Arsenal’s relatively new Emirates Stadium as an example, and says the new ground recently announced for AS Roma (you go, Michael Bradley!) will feature much of the same lucrative fancy-schmancy.

It’s not just the premium pricing where Americans excel, it’s also the overall commercialization aspect. Over here, of course, we probably are thinking, “Be careful what you ask for.”

Where I live, the big colossus of a football stadium includes a store just to sell freakin’ women’s panties. Panties! At a football stadium.

Any-who … here’s what Joshua Boren has to say about it in this morning’s Guardian (linked above).

Given the overall success of the business model it was only a matter of time before it was imported and replicated by overseas clubs seeking new – and renovated – stadiums. The most notable and easily recognizable example is that of Emirates Stadium, home of Arsenal and opened in 2006.

Emirates, boasting American influence and design elements, became the model for UEFA and other European clubs seeking ways to maximize revenue and better the overall fan experience. Emirates has been hailed for its success and has highlighted another area where clubs could compete beyond the pitch in the ever-growing arms war that is football; stadium development and commercial rights.

Xabi Alonso denies Spanish accusations of tax fraud

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The list of players pursued by Spanish authorities crying tax fraud is starting to resemble a pretty good team,

Call it The Longest Yard: La Liga.

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Xabi Alonso is being accused of not paying taxes on his image rights while a player at Real Madrid, joining Radamel Falcao, Neymar, Lionel Messi, Luka Modric, and Cristiano Ronaldo as World XI-caliber players who’ve faced legal troubles in Spain.

Jose Mourinho even had to travel to Spain earlier this season to face accusations from a Spanish court. Those found guilty have found punishment other than jail time.

Alonso denies any wrongdoing, according to Sky Sports:

Prosecutors say he defrauded the Spanish state of £1.75m between 2010 and 2012 and called for the same sentence to be applied to Alonso’s financial advisor Ivan Zaldua Azcuenaga and the administrator of consultancy shell company, Ignasi Maestre Casanova.

Iraq hosts friendly tournament after 3-decade FIFA ban

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BAGHDAD (AP) Iraq is hosting a friendly soccer tournament this week, with Syria and Qatar.

It comes just days after FIFA lifted a three-decade-long ban on Iraq hosting international competitions.

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An Iraq-Qatar match is to start Wednesday evening in the southern city of Basra.

FIFA lifted the ban on Monday for Iraqi cities of Basra, Karbala and Irbil, considered to be the safest in Iraq – but not the capital, Baghdad, which still sees frequent militant attacks.

Iraq’s minister of youth and sports, Abdul-Hussein Abtan, congratulated the Iraqi people following FIFA’s move and said it would change how Iraq is viewed in the region and beyond.

While the ban was in place, Iraq was still able to host friendly games and tournaments.

$280m? Who cares? Salah is the rare “unsellable” player


The gossip reports are out there, with lofty claims that Real Madrid and Barcelona are willing to pay as much as $280 million dollars for Mohamed Salah.

Normally that figure triggers something in my brain that screams, “Sell! Sell! Sell before they realize what they’ve offered!”

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That’s not happening with Mohamed Salah.

This isn’t an inflated fee for a young English player like Ross Barkley or John Stones, nor is it a club throwing a lofty and desperate figure at a very good but supremely overvalued player like Philippe Coutinho. Even Raheem Sterling, who I advocated selling, has proven replaceable.

In the case of Salah, his Golden Boot figure is likely to dwarf any in the Premier League era. He’s at 28, three behind Luis Suarez’s 31. Cristiano Ronaldo has bagged 31 once Alan Shearer and Andy Cole hold the modern record with 34.

Salah needs six to tie Shearer. Here’s Liverpool’s run-in: Crystal Palace (A), Everton (A), Bournemouth (H), West Brom (A), Stoke City (H), Chelsea (A), Brighton and Hove Albion (H).

Five of those teams absolutely hemorrhage goals. Would you bet against Salah?

By the way, Salah has 10 assists, too. Sure Jurgen Klopp deserves credit for buying and deploying the Egyptian wizard, but

When Klopp argued that Liverpool was not a selling club, this is the exact example to follow. Selling Coutinho — again, not trying to poke the bear that is ornery overvaluing fan — is fine in a world where your club has Roberto Firmino, Sadio Mane, and Mohamed Salah

But selling one of Europe’s leading scorers is almost never okay for a club challenging for a Champions League crown and with the clear caliber of a Premier League title hunter.

I’d argue that for this club, one who has sold Coutinho and Suarez, there is not a fee that meets Salah straight-on.  He’s 25 and living in the air just below Lionel Messi and Neymar.

The Messi comparisons I keep reading are fun but still unbelievably premature by every stretch of the imagination. By the time Messi was Salah’s age he had league seasons of 34, 31, 50, and was en route to a 46-goal mark. He posted 68 combined assists over those four seasons.

If this is somehow an aberration, and Salah cannot find this form ever again, well, that’s bad luck and a risk worth its weight in standard setting.

There is not a replacement player.

There is no fee.

Say it again now.

Dangerous playmaker Silva joins Montreal Impact (video)

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Alejandro Silva’s got a creative mind, and that’s something Montreal will welcome with open arms.

The Uruguayan signed with the Impact this week, joining Ignacio Piatti and Saphir Taider as playmakers in Quebec.

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Silva, 28, is a right-sided and forward-playing attacker who can also play right back if necessary.

The Impact lost two of three to start the season, winning this weekend’s 401 Derby versus Toronto FC to put a number in the win column.

Lanus has been a fertile ground for Major League Soccer clubs in recent years, with Lucas Melano (Portland Timbers) and Miguel Almiron (Atlanta United) making the move to North America.

The South American club has also sent Gustavo Gomez to AC Milan and Oscar Benitez to Benfica.