As the U.S. appetite for soccer grows, more American kids are harboring dreams of becoming the next David Beckham or Leo Messi. Their aspirations, realistic or not, have not gone unnoticed by top international teams, which are trying to capitalize financially.European clubs like Barcelona, Liverpool and Arsenal have long sent coaches to work at U.S. summer camps, but now some are opening year-round U.S. academies aimed at finding new talent while also expanding their fan bases and revenue opportunities in the states. Later this month, Barcelona will open FCB Escola Florida, its first permanent U.S academy, in Fort Lauderdale. Argentine Boca Juniors and English Everton are already operating in New York and Connecticut, respectively. Other teams are expected to follow.The expansion of such programs is part of a bigger trend, as major international clubs try to grow their brands in the U.S. to battle for the hearts and pocketbooks of Americans today and in decades to come. Building an international fan base is becoming important for the top teams, which derive a large chunk of their revenue from overseas broadcasting and merchandising. Real Madrid, for instance, has looked at space for a store in Miami’s Mary Brickell Village but has not signed a lease, said Fernando Perez, the shopping-and-dining district’s general manager. via – MiamiHerald.com
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