George Mitchell to Advise on All-Americas Soccer Tournament

  • Former senator joins NFL's Tagliabue as adviser to MP & Silva
  • Mitchell conducted investigation into baseball steroid use

Former Maine Senator George Mitchell has joined MP & Silva as an adviser on the media rights company’s proposed soccer tournament that would crown a club champion from North and South America and the Caribbean.

The proposed Americas Champions Leagueis based on the popular European Champions League, soccer’s most prestigious club competition and would "offer commercial opportunities and new and exciting competition for fans," Mitchell said in a statement.

"And it is rising at the right time," he said. "We want to start an international soccer league that is fully transparent and will empower the clubs, without threatening any existing competition.‎"

Mitchell joins former NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue on the advisory board. Major League Baseball fans may remember Mitchell as the author of the 2007 “Mitchell Report,” which the organization commissioned as an investigation into the use of performance-enhancing drugs by players.

Currently, the federations that govern soccer in the Americas -- Concacaf (North and Central America and the Caribbean) and Conmebol (South America) -- host their own competitions that crown a club champion from their areas.

MP & Silva co-founder Riccardo Silva has said combining the two into a Champions League-type tournament might be worth more than $500 million in TV and marketing rights. The existing tournaments generate about $100 million combined, SportsBusiness Journal reported.

An estimated $440 million of the overall revenue -- about 88 percent -- will be redistributed to the participating clubs. There will be a $5 million minimum, with payouts increasing each round. The winner will take home $30 million.

That’s a lot for clubs in the Western Hemisphere. The Major League Soccer salary cap was about $3.5 million last season (though they can spend more), according to the Columbus Dispatch. The main financial reward for winners of the Concacaf Champions League is a berth into FIFA’s global club tournament, for which teams receive between $1 million and $5 million depending on their finish. Conmebol’s version, known as the Copa Libertadores, paid its winner $5.3 million in 2015.

Clubs that qualify for the Americas Champions League -- such as MLS’s Los Angeles Galaxy, Mexico’s Club America and Argentina’s Boca Juniors -- will also benefit from the global platform of the games. MP & Silva, which the NFL hired to negotiate its broadcast rights across much of Europe, expects make the event a worldwide media property.

Unlike the European version, the proposed 64-team competition for the Americas will start be a simple home-and-away knockout, according to London-based MP & Silva. In Europe 32 teams first compete in eight groups of four with the two best-placed teams moving into the knockout stages.

No date has been set for the proposed tournament. Organizers will first need to overcome a number of hurdles, including obtaining agreements with regional and national soccer federations, which oversee an already congested schedule.

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