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Licensing Campaign to Back Soccer’s Copa America Centennial

The producer of the Copa America soccer tournament is looking to licensing to help build awareness for the tournament’s 2016 centennial. WeMatch, the partnership that holds the commercial rights to Copa America, will work with brand extension agency and soccer specialist One Entertainment to develop a U.S. and Canadian licensing program including apparel, accessories, toys and gifts for Copa America 2016.

The centennial brings Copa America from South America north to the U.S. for the first time. The Pan-American tournament will be played from June 3 to June 26, 2016 in the U.S., bringing 16 national teams from North, South and Central America and the Caribbean to play for its title in 32 games. The U.S. and Mexico will automatically be invited to compete.

Multiple U.S. host cities are expected to be announced next month, chosen from 24 contenders.

“When the United States hosted the 1994 FIFA World Cup, it was the first time a largescale licensing program was launched for a soccer competition, and it proved to be a massive success,” Alex Altamirano, a partner with One Entertainment, said. One Entertainment is the North American licensing agent for FC Barcelona, Manchester United, Juventus, and other soccer clubs.

David Gebel, another partner with One Entertainment, said that Copa America will allow licensees and retailers to tap three consumer groups: Americans interested in mega sports events and living in the host cities; soccer fans; and Hispanics.

Men’s soccer ties with men’s pro basketball and ice hockey as the fifth most popular spectator sport in the U.S., according to a survey from The Harris Poll conducted last December. Soccer had the most noteworthy increase in the survey with 6% of those polled calling it their favorite sport, up from 2% in 2013.

Licensing of sports properties is a growth area. The sports property type had the second highest increase in licensed merchandise sales, behind entertainment, in 2014. Retail sales of sports-licensed merchandise grew 5% last year, nearly double the 2.8% increase of 2013, and accounted for 14.1% of all retail sales of licensed goods, according to TLL’s Annual Licensing Business Survey.

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