By RYAN TOLMICH
Having worked with AC Milan since 2001, Riccardo Silva understands the glamour of Champions League soccer.
Now, the Miami FC owner is spearheading a project to bring that glamour to the Americas.
Silva, president and founding partner of media rights firm MP & Silva, revealed to SBI on Wednesday that there are wheels spinning on a potential “Americas Champions League”, a competition that would feature the best teams from North, Central and South America.
With MP & Silva, the Miami FC owner has a portfolio that includes the 2014 World Cup, Serie A, Premier League, La Liga and Bundesliga among its more than 50 sports properties. Silva is now hoping to expand into the Americas, while hopefully creating the area’s premier club competition.
“With my company, MP & Silva, we have started the possibility to launch an Americas Champions League, with all of the teams playing from all the continents of America,” Silva told SBI. “Like the European Champions League, but with teams coming from South, Central and North America.
“For the U.S. teams, being able to compete in an official competition with some of the best teams in the world in Argentina and Brazil – they are some of thee best teams in the world – then it could be really something comparable to the European UEFA Champions League. I think it could really upgrade the level and the interest and the financial point of view of soccer in the U.S. I hope we will head in that direction.”
Currently, U.S. and Canadian teams feature in the CONCACAF Champions League, a tournament that features 24 teams from North America, Central America and the Carribean.
Meanwhile, South America boasts the Copa Libertadores, a competition that features South American sides along with those of Mexico.
For years, travel has been seen as a complication in uniting the two, but Silva says that precautionary measures are already being put in place to ensure teams are not worn down in the trips across continents. The plan would see teams travel cross-continent no more than two or three times each year, helping to ease the load of thousands of miles of flights.
With travel accounted for, Silva says that the next step is getting clubs on board, something that M&P Silva has begun. Having approached numerous South American clubs, Silva says that he is hoping to generate a field to match that of the UEFA Champions League while also offering comparable prize money to participants.
“We are analyzing this, working with some of the top South American clubs who are very interested in this and so we look forward to presenting the project,” Silva said. “Each team will get $5 million to participate while the prize money will be closer to the European Champions League. It will be $5 million to the participating clubs to $30 million to the winner, so something very close to the European Champions League.
“We are starting this and we think it will be feasible. We will see.”
For now, the project remains in development, as Silva says there is still more to be done in terms of working out details.
As such, Silva says there is no current time set in terms of start date, although the Italian expects the idea to prove a lasting one.
“We don’t have any timetable. We just work with the teams, and for the teams, in order to increase their revenue,” Silva said. ” In order to increase their exposure and brand of reach and when everything will be ready, we will see when it will be.
“It will probably take time, no problem, because it lets us be better and do things very carefully. We are not in a rush and I think, sooner or later, it will happen.”