• Loading stock data...
Sunday, June 16, 2024

The Athletic Takes On Soccer

Photo via The Athletic

George Quraishi didn’t intend to leave Howler, a quarterly soccer magazine he had founded in 2011, when he got a call from Alex Mather, CEO and co-founder of The Athletic a few months ago.

At first, he wasn’t sure what he wanted to do. While The Athletic had been making waves in the sports media landscape as a subscription-based outlet, acquiring top journalists and producing in-depth content it didn’t cover soccer – at least not consistently.

That was about to change.

Last week, The Athletic launched a soccer vertical, bringing on a roster of renowned journalists, including Quraishi as the managing editor, to cover the world’s most popular sport.

“That the most exciting thing in sports journalism would dive into the world’s favorite sport was about as expected as a Cristiano ab-flex, and it didn’t require crunches or healthy eating,” wrote Quraishi in his inaugural post announcing The Athletic’s soccer expansion.

[the_ad id=”14294″]

The more Quraishi and Mather discussed the opportunity, the more exciting it seemed. Soon, the path forward became clear.

“The mission he described was so interesting and so refreshing,” explained Quraishi. “We’re all aware of the troubles that are affecting [the journalism] industry and having come into soccer with a print quarterly that really made due on subscriber payments, I understood the power of being responsible only to the people who are paying us and the kind of connection that can foster, which I really love.”

The decision to leave Howler, which he had built from the ground up, was something he took seriously.

“I was really reluctant to saying anything at all until we had [Howler’s new ownership] in place because I’m so grateful to the Howler readers who helped us from day one,” he explained.

While working to ensure Howler was in good hands, Quraishi was simultaneously starting to build out a world-class team to launch The Athletic’s soccer vertical. Having worked in journalism and publishing his entire career, focusing specifically on soccer for the last five and a half years, he admitted to having some opinions on who he wanted on his team.

“I wanted people who really make me excited to read a story,” explained Quraishi. “I was really trying to find writers who had a really great grasp on the specific angle into soccer that they specialize in whether it’s Mexican soccer, or European soccer, or the men’s and women’s national teams, I wanted all those things to be represented but I wanted to make sure that their writing was full of wit and energy and was fun to read and I think we’ve done a pretty good job of doing that.”

To start, The Athletic is focusing on covering MLS, Champions League, Premier League, La Liga, USMNT, USWNT, El Tri, and Liga MX. As the soccer vertical grows, however, coverage will expand beyond those categories. Given The Athletic’s subscription model, writers want to make sure the audience is receiving the type of content they want and so reader feedback is extremely important, especially in the early days.

This is something Quraishi is paying particular attention to as well. On launch day, he posted a feedback request asking readers to share what they would like to see on the platform.

In the first 24 hours alone, the post saw 989 responses, including requests for Bundesliga, Canadian Premier League, and Serie A coverage, demonstrating the breadth of soccer fandom in the country.

Soccer fans took to Twitter to follow The Athletic’s new soccer page, @TheAthleticSCCR, which reached 5,000 followers in its first full day, and many within the sports industry saw their timelines flooded with people announcing their decisions to subscribe to the outlet.

The strong, positive response wasn’t surprising.

“It’s a passionate fan base and I think we knew that going in,” said Taylor Patterson the director of communications at The Athletic. “We knew that we would be touching folks that are hungry for substantive and in-depth coverage and who probably feel like they are not getting enough coverage of their teams, especially in the U.S. where [soccer] tends to be covered less than in mainstream publications.”

[the_ad id=”14294″]

Soccer fans, who have often had trouble identifying a centralized place to consume content, now have a home and it couldn’t have come at a better time.

“We launched the day after the Europa League final, two days before the FA Cup final, a week before the Champions League final and about a month before the World Cup starts. And of course MLS is going throughout,” explained Quraishi.

Want more content like this? Subscribe to our daily newsletter!

Looking ahead to Russia, The Athletic understands that the World Cup is one of the most well-covered events in sports so rather than overextending itself in the early days, the platform is taking a more measured approach to content creation.

“What we’re focusing on [for the World Cup] is really providing the sharpest analysis that we can. We’ve got some really fantastic tactical and analytical writers and, in addition to that, just people whose writing I would really want to read,” explained Quraishi.

Compelling storytelling is what will fuel The Athletic Soccer. Take, for example, Quraishi’s post announcing the soccer vertical. Quraishi took a simple welcome post and made it so much more than that, wrapping it up in a Cristiano Ronaldo metaphor. It was exciting, intriguing, and delicious to the last drop.

[the_ad id=”14294″]

With that type of storytelling in mind, what if, Quraishi wonders, you give reporters the World Cup and have them cover it like their favorite TV show?

“Whether it’s The Bachelor, or Game of Thrones, or Westworld, there’s something really fantastic about the community that a shared experience of watching something like that on the TV can provide and that’s how most Americans will be experiencing the World Cup anyway.”

“I’m toying with this,” he continued, discussing The Athletic’s World Cup strategy, which will see a handful of freelance contributors on the ground and several more reporters writing from the States. “It’s the first time we’ve really talked about this-this way but I think there’s something there, we’re going to find out.”

The World Cup is just the beginning and while The Athletic has a new soccer team, you can be assured it won’t get eliminated in the knockout stages. Led by Quraishi and powered by veteran journalists, The Athletic is creating something special and soccer fans, the most passionate in the world, are ready for it.

Linkedin
Whatsapp
Copy Link
Link Copied
Link Copied

What to Read

Major Selling Point for Cities Pushing New Stadium Projects: Big Events

Several jurisdictions have mentioned events such as the Super Bowl as part of the impetus to build or renovate stadiums.
Manchester City FC corner flag in the Etihad Stadium

Legal Battles, Infighting Threaten Premier League’s Economic Recovery

Manchester City’s ongoing issues with Premier League rules are just part of a larger unease in English pro soccer.

ESPN Extension Could Set Up Shannon Sharpe As Stephen A. Smith’s Successor

Sharpe is writing one of the great career comebacks in sports TV history.
Jan 3, 2022; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA; General view of the NFL shield logo signage before the Pittsburgh Steelers host the Cleveland Browns at Heinz Field.

Odds Stacked Against NFL in Multibillion-Dollar Sunday Ticket Trial

Why the class action trial does not look promising for the league.
podcast thumbnail mobile
Front Office Sports Today

How the US Open is Designed for Drama

0:00

Featured Today

Jan 7, 2024; San Francisco, California, USA; Toronto Raptors forward Jontay Porter (11) takes a three-point shot against the Golden State Warriors during the second half at Chase Center.

‘Bound to Happen’: The Age of the Sports Betting Scandal Has Arrived

A banishment, betting scheme, and guilty plea all in one scandal-filled span.
June 8, 2024

‘Experimental in Nature’: The Rapid, Confounding Rise of Streaming Bundles

Here’s why confusion continues to outweigh solutions in the streaming package boom.
June 2, 2024

The Nostalgia Market: Michael Jordan’s Memorabilia Remains Coveted, With Caveats

Due to scarcity, and sometimes, items’ undisclosed whereabouts, this world has limitations.
Pac-12
June 1, 2024

The Pac-12 Wants Everybody to Know That It Isn’t Dead Yet

With a broadcast studio and two schools, the league plans to rebuild.

Top Sports Business Jobs This Week (May 2024)

Each week, our staff combs through the thousands of job listings from…
August 10, 2022

PGA Tour Touts Projected Earnings to Keep Players

The PGA Tour is asking its players to consider their potential futures.
October 3, 2022

Real Madrid President Renews Call for Super League

Real Madrid’s president believes that soccer is losing ground.
Sponsored

How HOKA is Reimagining the NIL Relationship

HOKA, the renowned athletic footwear and apparel brand, is betting on a new reality with NIL.
August 10, 2022

Bayern Munich to Make Growth Push in U.S. Market

Bayern Munich is looking to expand its reach in the U.S.
Nintendo-logo
August 3, 2022

Nintendo Profits Underwhelm, Switch Sales Decline

Nintendo failed to meet expectations in the company’s latest earnings report.
manfred_at_microphone
August 19, 2021

MLB Owners Propose $100M Salary Floor

Major League Baseball owners have proposed a $100 million payroll minimum for MLB’s 30 teams and a lower luxury tax threshold.
nfl_logo
July 23, 2021

NFL to Players: Get Vaccinated or Pay the Price

The NFL’s threatening to drop the financial hammer on un-vaccinated players and teams that cause forfeited games in 2021, according to memo.