IMG, MP & Silva and Infront all in the mix to distribute Conmebol rights
By Callum Murray
Conmebol, the South American soccer confederation, received four 'valid' offers in response to a tender seeking an agency to distribute the commercial rights to its club competitions from 2019 to 2022, by yesterday’s deadline.
The bids are from: SportPromotion, the Brazilian sports marketing agency; MP & Silva, the international sports agency headquartered in London; PIMGSA LLP (Perform Investment Limited, the international sports media company, and Trans World International, the media division of IMG); and a joint offer from Synergy Football and Infront Sports & Media, the Switzerland-based sports agencies.
Alejandro Domínguez, the president of Conmebol, said: “This bidding process represents a further advance in the reforms we are implementing to professionalise and make transparent the management of South American football. This is the first time Conmebol has launched a tender to hire a professional agency to help it structure the commercialisation of its sports assets under a professional and competitive scheme. In addition, in accordance with our commitment to transparency, we have implemented world-class standards and controls throughout the process to ensure their integrity.”
Conmebol said that the four offers will be assessed “according to objective criteria previously established in the bidding documents.”
Domínguez added: “We are pleased that four world-class companies have submitted their bids in the tender to work with Conmebol in the commercialisation of the assets of our club tournaments, such as Conmebol Libertadores and Conmebol Sudamericana, these being the most exciting tournaments in the world. We are confident that this merit selection process will allow us to find a commercial agency with the capacity and trajectory to optimise its commercialisation with the strategic objective to generate more value for the development of South American football.”
Ten companies had been cleared to participate in the tender process, with those losing out including prominent international sports agencies such as Lagardère Sports and Mediapro, the Spanish agency and production firm with significant interests in South America, plus the B4 Advisory agency.
On the sponsorship front, IMG has been marketing rights for the 2017 and 2018 editions of the Copa Libertadores, while Synergy Football, the Switzerland-based sports marketing agency set up by Patrick Murphy, formerly of Team Marketing, has a similar contract for the Copa Sudamericana.
In March, Murphy told Sportcal he was keen to work on a longer-term agreement with Conmebol for soccer in South America.
Fox Networks Group presently holds broadcasting rights to the Copa Libertadores and Copa Sudamericana in a deal running from 2016 to 2018.
Dominguez emphasised in July that Conmebol would not be dealing with individuals such as Alejandro Burzaco, the former head of the Argentinian agency Torneos, and Hugo and Mariano Jinkis of the Full Play agency, who were named in the US Department of Justice probe that is at the centre of a bribery and corruption scandal that implicated officials throughout the Americas with links to Fifa.
Dominguez named GolTV, the Latin American cable and satellite network owned by renowned Uruguayan player agent Paco Casal, as another company Conmebol would refuse to do business with, after a previous contract was cancelled in 2013.
Conmebol turned to Soccer United Marketing, the marketing arm of North America’s Major League Soccer, and IMG to handle the worldwide commercial rights to the 2016 Copa América Centenario, a special centenary edition of the tournament, held in USA and also involving teams from the Concacaf region.
Conmebol and Concacaf had taken the rights in-house after a settlement was reached with Datisa, the troubled agency that had previously held the rights, although the company defended its position as the “legitimate owner” of the media and commercial rights for the 2019 and 2023 editions, the first of which will take place in Brazil.
Datisa was formed by Brazil’s Traffic Sports and Argentinian agencies Torneos and Full Play, all of which were implicated in ‘Fifa-gate’, the scandal which came to a head in 2015 and involved officials from across the Americas with links to soccer’s international governing body.
The Copa Libertadores and Copa Sudamericana international media rights agreement with Fox was only made possible by Conmebol unilaterally terminating a contract with T&T Sports Marketing, a Cayman Islands shell company 75-per-cent owned by Fox Sports Latin America, which had signed a deal with Traffic Sports to handle the rights to the clubs competitions.
Fox Sports Latin America denied any wrongdoing and the parent company has stressed that it had no operational control over any of the agencies involved in Fifa-gate.