Chicago Fire FC owner and chairman Joe Mansueto has purchased Swiss Super League club FC Lugano, it was announced Wednesday, giving the historic MLS side a European partner club.
“We now have a partner club where, when permitted, players can move between clubs – from Chicago to Lugano and vice versa,” Mansueto said in a statement. “The clubs will support one another and share best practices. We want to bring joy to the fans of Lugano and continue to grow the club. I’d like to thank our sporting director Georg Heitz for his hard work and vision to acquire FC Lugano. We are fully committed to investing in both of our teams and we’re extremely excited about the future.”
Heitz and head coach Raphael Wicky, who are both of Swiss descent, previously worked together at Swiss Super League powerhouse FC Basel 1893.
Chicago join the likes of New York City FC (City Football Group), the New York Red Bulls (Red Bull), CF Montréal (Bologna), Atlanta United (Aberdeen), FC Dallas (Bayern Munich), FC Cincinnati (Hoffenheim) and the Colorado Rapids (Arsenal) as MLS clubs that have working relationships with European sides.
FC Lugano were founded in 1908 and have played in the Swiss Super League during multiple periods throughout their history, most recently from 2015 to present. Coached by Abel Braga and featuring former FC Dallas center back Reto Ziegler as well as former Premier League striker Demba Ba, they're currently third in the 10-team Swiss Super League.
In September 2019, Mansueto took full ownership of Chicago. They've since moved home games to Soldier Field and in 2022 are launching a new crest that was inspired by supporters.