Sporting Kansas City announced today that they have agreed to a partnership with Brazilian club Fluminense. The partnership will include sharing players at both the senior team and the academy team level, coaching philosophies and business practices.
Sporting Kansas City manager Peter Vermes explained the deal . "We will share in coaching philosophies, both on the senior team and the academy. We will share players both on the senior team and on the academy. More so on our academy but there could be some things that happen on our first team and I mean both ways. We will probably in some way, shape or form play a game against each other. "
"There will also be some opportunities for us to some player opportunities in the future that don't exist, that aren't in the world of that player playing for us or them be could be more of a business opportunity for both organizations," Vermes continued. "On the front office side, best business practices. There are a lot of things that Sporting does that there are teams in our league that would like to have that information as well. We will do some things that share that information as well."
In the agreement Fluminense will loan at least one player to Sporting KC and at least one to Sporting KC's USLPro affiliate as well.
"We continuously invested in our presence in the North American market over the last two years in search of a strategic partnership," said Fluminense's president Peter Siemsen via press release. "I believe our goals and communication are very well aligned. We could not be any more pleased with this association for our brand."
Fluminense has twice won the Campeonato Brasileiro Serie A in the past five seasons and has now secured four league titles in club history (1970, 1984, 2010 and 2012). Outside of league play, Fluminense won the club's first Copa do Brasil in 2007 and also reached the finals of Copa Libertadores (2008) and Copa Sudamericana (2009) in back-to-back seasons. Most recently, Fluminense has qualified and competed in three out of the last four Copa Libertadores tournaments (2011-2013).
Sporting KC had many clubs over the years approach them but the deals were always one sided. "We've looked for a lot of different opportunities in this and the fact is it got to a point where I didn't even look anymore," Vermes admitted. "It always seemed the relationships were going to be one way. They always wanted a lot of stuff from us without giving anything in return."
Fluminense was different
Sporting KC played the Fluminese U-23 team in preseason in Florida where they got a look at Igor Julião up close and took an interest in the young defender.
"When we did this deal with Fluminense for Igor to come on loan, we got to know those guys when we were down in Florida," Vermes explained. "They took the initiative to come up here twice to see what we do and how we do things. Two of our people went down there and spent some time with them. It was a pleasure in having discussions with them because we could tell they were truly interested in a relationship that went both ways. They are going to provide us with stuff and vice versa. They weren't making a million demands that seemed to make it one sided."
Vermes was extremely complimentary of the whole Fluminense organization. "Their staff, their president, the technical side, they are first class people. They have a great vision. They are a lot like us in that they are trying to do very innovative things within the Brazilian league that haven't been done before and we try to do a lot of that stuff that hasn't been done before."
The keys to the player machine
Brazil is well known for turning out great players, many of them go on to play for great clubs. Fluminense's Youth Academy alone has produced numerous good and great players. Stars such as Rafael (Manchester United), Thiago Silva (Paris Saint-Germain) and Marcelo (Real Madrid).
"Those guys have a machine down there. They turn it on and kick out players. Need three central defenders and it kicks them out. They have a plethora of talent. For us we have the keys to the door that turns on the machine. That could be a big help in the future," Vermes explained with a smile.
What does Fluminense get?
"One thing people don't take into consideration with Brazil is that as many players as they have outside the country playing, there are a lot of players that go out and have to come back because they can't adapt or adjust to the leagues they go to," Vermes stated.
Everyone has been impressed with how well Igor Julião has adapted, even after being forced to start more than expected by Chance Myers injury. Fluminense can loan players to SKC, a place that can obviously help players adapt. The Brazilians can show how they develop and thus they are more valuable for later sale by showing they can already adapt.
With Brazilians on staff already, Sporting KC trainer Mateus Manoel and veteran midfielder Paulo Nagamura (who would be likely to stick around as a coach after playing days finish), they can help young players adapt to a new environment.
Vermes says that the deal will mean even more to the academy. The probability of bringing players and coaches in both directions to learn could be a big boost for Sporting KC's Academy long term.