Kelly Ripa and her husband, Mark Consuelos, have joined the ranks of Hollywood stars investing in European soccer. The couple bought an ownership stake in Campobasso 1919, an Italian soccer club currently playing in the Eccelenza, the fifth division of the Italian soccer league.
The talk show host and actor/producer bought the stake from North Sixth Group, the principal owner and operator of the team. In their co-ownership role, Ripa and Consuelos will work with the company to build Campobasso 1919’s media presence and increase commercial activities and sponsorship opportunities, similar to what Ryan Reynolds did with his club Wrexham Football Club.
Consuelos is quite familiar with Welcome to Wrexham, the show documenting Reynolds’ UK venture. “I’ve been watching it, and the comparisons would be really, really funny,” he told Sportico. “I would say that we would win on the food side—nothing against the cuisine in Wales.”
He’s excited to tell the story of the Italian club for non-gustatory reasons, too. “I think Campobasso is the ultimate underdog story,” he said.
Matt Rizetta, the group’s chairman, approached Consuelos a week before the season kickoff to come on board to revamp the club. “I literally had to google it on the map to find out where it is,” Conseulos told Sportico. “Nestled between Rome and Naples, north of Puglia, where I grew up.”
Campobasso was founded in 1919, as the name suggests. The team played in the second division from time to time, but was relegated to the fourth and fifth divisions for much of its recent history. The club made it back to the third tier of Italian football in 2021 for the first time in 32 years; however, due to administrative failures, Campobasso was about to be kicked out of professional soccer when the group acquired it.
Campobasso is the primary soccer team of Italy’s Molise region; large expat communities from the region are living in the United States, Canada, Australia and South America, adding to the team’s global reach. Since North Sixth’s acquisition, the club has secured the rights to play in the 25,000-seat Stadio Nuovo Romagnoli.
“The Campobasso project is the quintessential underdog story,” Consuelos said. “When I heard the story about these fans being at risk of losing the sport they love, Kelly and I wanted to get involved and be part of the solution. This is a story of redemption, rebirth and hope that will be playing out on the football pitches of Italy, and we are truly proud to play a role as co-owners.”
Ripa and Consuelos will also be investing, again via its partnership with the North Sixth Group, in Ascoli FC, one of Italy’s most historic clubs. Ascoli currently plays in Serie B, the second division. Last season, Ascoli finished sixth in Serie B and qualified for the playoffs to get promoted to Serie A, but lost.
Campobasso is currently in first place in the fifth division, and owns the second-longest winning streak in all of Italy’s professional leagues.
“Things are looking great,” Consuelos said. “I don’t want to jinx it. Everybody gets scared when I start saying this within the group, but we’re getting promoted to the fourth division. This [is] my first venture into football, and my team’s gonna get promoted.”