The Soccer Power Broker You’ve Never Heard Of

“After I had the team, I said: ‘Hey, I have this empty stadium. How do I get into this?’” Ross said. “People in this country want to see the stars, that’s what they’re mostly interested in, and seeing the great teams in the world. That’s what they’ll really pay for and go see.”

Ross’s vision was to turn what was effectively a ticket-selling operation into one that sold the television rights to the matches globally and sealed large sponsorship agreements — a proposition that was, potentially, far more lucrative. After losing millions of dollars during its first four years, the I.C.C., Ross said, will turn a profit this year.

The marquee matchup is between Barcelona and Real Madrid in Miami, the first time the rivals have played each other outside Spain in over 30 years. Unlike the other matches in the I.C.C. this year — all of them glamorous matchups like Barcelona-Juventus, or Real Madrid-Manchester United, or United-Manchester City — Barca-Real is being sold not so much as a game but as a dayslong festival. A “Super Bowl experience,” in the words of one Relevent executive.

It is a model Relevent hopes to repeat, perhaps soon; Barcelona’s president, Josep Maria Bartomeu, said last week that the teams were already discussing doing it again. Stillitano will surely be happy to arrange it.

Big Names, Big Games

When Barcelona defeated Juventus by 2-1 on Saturday night at MetLife Stadium, it did so in front of 82,104 fans and on the strength of two goals by Neymar, its star Brazilian forward. The largest soccer crowd in New Jersey history saw two teams play their first-choice starters for at least 45 minutes, and Juventus pressed hard for the tying goal until the final whistle.

“We cringe when managers say it’s just a training session,” Stillitano said, one day after the new Barcelona manager Ernesto Valverde dismissed the…

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