Shame on US Soccer

The World Cup is now over, and the buzz over our national team effectively ended when Ghana’s Asamoah Gyan rocket in extra time sank the Americans.  The United States Soccer Federation was intent on trying to parlay the World Cup buzz into something more here in the U.S., and what better way to bring in football’s most famed national team, Brazil.  On August 10th, at the New Meadowlands Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey, the U.S. will face “The Samba Kings”, in our first game post-World Cup.

Sounds like a great idea, right?

From a marketing perspective, there is no denying this was a great move by U.S. Soccer President Sunil Gulati.  In fact, PRIOR to the World Cup there were already over 30,000 seats sold for the event.  It’s a safe assumption that those numbers have little to do with Ricardo Clark’s “triumphant” return to the NYC area, in which his professional career started.  That might have changed post-World Cup given the amount of U.S. fans who would now like to heckle the bum into oblivion.

But, with the likes of Clark preparing for their club seasons in Europe, it will be most interesting to see who Bob Bradley, Jurgen Klinnsman (fingers crossed), or whomever might be at the helm will have at their disposal.  And just as important, who will be out there for the Brazilian side?  We don’t know, and won’t know until that time comes.  It’s a safe assumption that these players who make their trade in Europe, particularly those in England (EPL starts four days later) will not be there August 10th.  These factors, combined with outrageous ticket prices definitely sour this contest.

Face value ticket prices for the public are as expensive as $375, for a friendly.  Ticket prices for official supporters are jacked up from the norm, and they cost $70.  This is hardly a reward for fans who have traveled the country to support this team, and help will the squad reach South Africa.  Supporters tickets for World Cup qualifiers and competitions like the Gold Cup are typically $25.  These are competitive, all-important games, but a friendly with no guarantee of stars will cost supporters three times as much (not to mention the all-encompassing expense of traveling to NYC). 

Frankly, it’s an injustice. 

 The sad truth about the event is that a vast majority of the fans there will be there only for the Brazilian product, which carries massive weight everywhere (even in the U.S.).  Essentially, fans here are willing to pay outrageous prices to see a meaningless game, but won’t pay rather pedestrian prices for games that truly matter for the U.S. 

I realize Gulati is trying to expand the product, and reach new fans.  The idea, once again, is great from a marketing perspective both financially and for potential new fans.  That’s fine, but the very least the USSF could have done would be to reward the loyal fans.  $70 a ticket, to see a squad that will likely be MLS-exclusive because of our better players European interests, is not exactly enticing.

I’m all for the expansion of the game here, but not at the expense of the loyal fans.

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