November 8, 2019 at 5:41 pm ET
UEFA Targeting New York Area for 2024 Champions League Final, Sources Say
Club soccer’s most prestigious cup competition has never been held off European soil
UEFA, the governing body of soccer in Europe, has informed potential commercial partners that it is trying to bring the 2024 UEFA Champions League Final to the United States, according to people familiar with the discussions. If the organization’s efforts are successful, it would be the first time the prestigious club championship is played outside of Europe.
TEAM Marketing AG, a Swiss agency that represents UEFA’s commercial interests for its club soccer properties globally, has informed potential corporate partners and media rights holders that the organization is targeting the New York market for the event, according to people familiar with the talks, and one person with direct knowledge said MetLife Stadium in New Jersey was the preferred venue.
In an email, a UEFA spokesperson said the organization’s position on holding a Champions League Final outside of Europe has not changed since last year, when the organization refuted a claim by the chief executive of its Spanish rights holder, Mediapro, that the organization was “investigating the feasibility” of holding a future edition of the event in New York.
TEAM did not respond to a request for comment.
While it is unclear how far along UEFA is in the process of planning the 2024 Final in the United States, those familiar with the discussions said UEFA and TEAM have not been shy about sharing their intentions with relevant stakeholders.
On Friday, UEFA awarded the U.S. media rights for its club soccer properties, including the Champions League, to CBS Corp. and Univision Communications Inc. from 2021-2024, as was first reported by Sports Business Daily. One person with direct knowledge of the bidding process, which took place over the course of the past week, said TEAM pointed to a potential 2024 final in New York as a selling point in presentations to potential bidders for the three-year package.
UEFA has already announced that the 2022 and 2023 Champions League finals will be held in Munich and London, respectively, but has not selected a location for 2024.
In addition to the Champions League, UEFA’s club rights package includes the second-tier UEFA Europa League and the UEFA Super Cup, which is contested by the previous season’s Champions League and Europa League winners. The package awarded Friday also included the rights for the new third-tier UEFA Europa Conference League, which launches in 2021, and the UEFA Youth League for the first time, according to a person with direct knowledge of the bidding process.
The United States has already proven to be fertile ground for high-profile European soccer clubs, many of which regularly tour the country for preseason exhibitions. Previous efforts by foreign leagues to play competitive games in the United States, however, have faced resistance from the sport’s domestic stakeholders.
Updated to include comment from UEFA.
Earlier this year, New York-based Relevent Sports Group, which operates a preseason tournament in the United States featuring foreign clubs called the International Champions Cup, filed an antitrust suit against U.S. Soccer, the sport’s domestic governing body, for allegedly working with FIFA to prevent the firm from bringing competitive European soccer matches to America.
One sports media consultant expressed skepticism that U.S. Soccer — which would have to authorize UEFA to hold a final stateside — would be willing to do so given its past posture.
Neither Relevent nor U.S. Soccer responded to a request for comment on the prospect of a Champions League Final being held on U.S. soil.