Soccer investment firm For Soccer Ventures has made its first three acquisitions as the recently launched fund aims to meld together different elements of soccer fandom and lifestyle in the U.S.
Launched in November, For Soccer Ventures is led by Philadelphia Union co-owner Richie Graham.
The more than $50 million effort is aiming to create an almost one-stop platform for the U.S. soccer landscape, combining two components under one roof: The Soccer Alliance, which groups together traditional soccer properties like youth clubs and tournaments, with The Soccer Collective, a grouping of media companies and platforms that celebrate American soccer culture, while also creating its own soccer-related content.
The three acquisitions all come on the Soccer Collective side, and all look to connect to brands and fans in the soccer community through things like sneaker culture, music, fashion, and ultimately, the sport.
The companies being acquired by For Soccer Ventures are as follows:
FootyCon, which aims to be the first consumer-facing convention series celebrating soccer, will launch its first event in June 2020.
The Association, which launched in Los Angeles in 2017, has developed as a 5v5 soccer league that caters to brands, social media influencers, and content creators. The first two seasons have attracted teams from properties like Beats by Dre, Red Bull, LA Galaxy, LAFC, Complex, and SpaceX.
Kicks to the Pitch, or KTTP, is a digital content platform that looks to celebrate the connection between soccer and sneakers, art, fashion, and music. The company has worked with brands like Adidas, Nike, Puma as well as clubs like PSG, Borussia Dortmund, LA Galaxy, and LAFC to find other connective points between the sport of soccer and the lifestyle and culture around it.
John Parker, managing director of For Soccer Ventures, said the fund’s aim to “find tangible touchpoints with the fan and the soccer community – this is where there are opportunities to affect the American soccer community in person.”
“We believe that there are a lot of people doing fantastic things in the American soccer community – better than a lot of other places in the world,” Parker said. “I don’t think there has been an organization that has looked to provide those people the resources or platform to do something transformative at a larger scale, and that’s where our opportunity is.”
Parker said since launching in November, For Soccer Ventures has been active in discussions with a wide range of companies, platforms, and creators across the soccer industry as it looks to make acquisitions.
While some of those deals may include established platforms like Kicks to the Pitch or other content agencies, those acquisitions could also include things like individual podcasts or social media channels.
“We want to make sure that we have an authentic touchpoint to all levels of American soccer,” Parker said.
In recent months, For Soccer Ventures has begun staffing up its executive ranks as it looks to make more acquisitions across its business. The team includes Ryan Mooney, the former U.S. Soccer chief soccer officer, Aaron Maines, former head of sports marketing at Adidas Soccer, and Marc Horine, a former ESPN executive who most recently was general manager of soccer content company COPA90 US. Maines serves as the general manager of The Soccer Alliance. For The Soccer Collective Heath Pearce serves as chief brand officer while Burke Cherie is its chief content officer.
Current properties and investments under the For Soccer Ventures umbrella include Graham’s stake in the Philadelphia Union, the YSC Academy, YSC Sports, and APL Leagues and Tournaments, a competitive youth and adult soccer tournament series.
The Soccer Collective is expected to launch a more consumer-facing brand in the coming months, Parker said, which will also include its own media and social channels.
These acquisitions represent For Soccer Venture’s ambition to prop up the best-in-class operators that are advancing the sport of soccer in America,” Graham said in a statement.
Parker said the fund is planning additional acquisitions both across its content and on-field soccer businesses, aiming that For Soccer Ventures sees plenty of runway ahead for the sport.
“These are companies that are doing great work and helping realize a different vision for American soccer – we think we can be a differentiator by investing in them,” Parker said.