For Soccer Ventures, the investment fund backed by Philadelphia Union co-owner Richie Graham, has made its first acquisitions: a pair of companies that cater to Hispanic soccer communities in the U.S.
The group bought Alianza de Futbol, which operates clinics, leagues and tournaments outside of the structured U.S. Soccer ecosystem, and JUGOtv, its content studio and media arm. Both were previously owned by billionaire Stephen Ross’s Relevent Sports.
A $50 million fund, For Soccer Ventures wants to create a one-stop platform for anyone involved in the sport in the U.S., from the national teams and Major League Soccer all the way through youth academies and local leagues. To do that successfully, it’s imperative to embrace and involve the country’s Hispanic soccer communities.
“The Hispanic population and Spanish-speaking population that is passionate about soccer is critical to FSV’s plans,” fund president Ryan Mooney said. “And the acquisitions of Alianza and JUGOtv are just the beginning of that. They represent an incredibly established and important program, and we’re looking to grow the impact that they’re having.”
There was no formal sale process for either property, Mooney said. FSV executives have followed Alianza’s work for years, and reached out to Relevent directly to ask about a potential acquisition. Both sides declined to comment on the terms of the deal.
America’s growing Hispanic population reached a record 60.6 million people in 2019, and more than 37.4 million people in the U.S. speak Spanish at home, making it by far the country’s most common non-English language. The language and cultural barrier has carried over to the soccer world, creating a large cohort of avid Spanish-speaking soccer players and fans who don’t always participate alongside their English-speaking countrymates.
TV ratings underscore that point. Broadcasts of LigaMX, Mexico’s top soccer league, averaged 952,000 viewers on Univision last year. That’s more than the combined average viewers in the U.S. for English-language broadcasts of the English Premier League and Major League Soccer.
Launched in 2004, Alianza de Futbol hosts clinics, scouting events, adult leagues and youth tournaments that serve Hispanic communities across the U.S. Thousands of soccer players have passed through the system, including more than 75 eventual pros such as Mexican national team midfielder Jonathan Gonzalez.
The company’s growth has so far come outside of the traditional U.S. Soccer system, where millions of registered youth players compete in state tournament and college showcases. But there are thousands of independent Hispanic leagues in America that aren’t part of that ecosystem. Working with For Soccer Ventures and its relationships across the sport should help Alianza de Futbol provide more support to those communities, co-founder Richard Copeland said in an interview.
“It’s a different animal when you don’t have an official relationship with anybody,” Copeland said, explaining that the company’s independent roots were intentional. “Part of that was a strategic decision, because we just wanted to provide opportunities to players however possible, but there is so much talent in the Hispanic market that having more formal relationships with the leagues, teams or federations would be a huge benefit.”
For Soccer Ventures launched in November 2019, hoping to capitalize on the growth of American soccer as the country prepares to host the 2026 World Cup and the Summer Olympics two years later. The group has a podcast network and has partnered with CBS Sports to provide strategic support for its soccer coverage, including Champions League and Europa League matches. There’s more in the works, Mooney said.
“There are lots of important sub-audiences that together represent the overall American soccer audience,” Mooney said. “At FSV we want to reach all of them, and connect with them in an authentic way.”