SALT LAKE CITY - Real Salt Lake, Major League Soccer's 12th team, today announced a cooperative partnership with Clint Mathis' former club, Hannover 96 of the German Bundesliga. The teams agree to formally partner in the fields of sports and business development for soccer in both countries, sharing best practices, exchanging players and planning exhibition games in each home city.
"During the negotiations regarding the transfer of Clint Mathis, it became apparent that Real Salt Lake and Hannover 96 share common interests in developing this sport and our organizations," said RSL General Manager Steve Pastorino. "As an expansion MLS team, we see great value in opening the lines of communication and cooperation with the Bundesliga club. We are excited to further develop our relationship with Hannover 96 and hope to see them in Salt Lake City very soon."
On the competitive side, Real Salt Lake and Hannover 96 agree to regularly exchange players for training and evaluation, as well as participate in a coaching exchange program on both the first-team and reserve-team levels for education and experience.
"Everyone at Hannover 96 - the President, the Coaching Staff, the Players and our Front Office employees - are all excited about this innovative Partnership with Real Salt Lake," said Ilja Kaenzig, Hannover 96 General Manager. "The possibilities for both clubs are only limited by our imaginations - playing each other in real soccer environments, exchanging expertise between our players and coaches and having an opportunity to be integrated into the U.S. sports business market - the largest and most sophisticated in the world - is for Hannover 96 an unique and cutting edge step into the future."
Real Salt Lake will organize Hannover's future tour of the United States, with games against RSL and possibly additional MLS teams. Conversely, Real Salt Lake may travel to Hannover in 2006 or 2007.
"This is a fantastic opportunity for both Hannover and Real Salt Lake," said RSL Head Coach John Ellinger. "Players and coaches alike are always thirsting for the chance to compare themselves to others. We are competitive, but at the same time appreciate the international nature of our sport. This relationship gives us the chance to interact regularly with one of the top clubs in one of the world's most prestigious leagues, on several levels."
On the business side of the Real Salt Lake-Hannover 96 relationship, both sides agree to share best practices in sales, marketing, licensing and other relevant business applications. Each organization will explore joint branding opportunities to promote both teams and leagues in the United States and German markets, as well as share promotional and creative ideas for the 2005 and 2006 seasons.
"We are participants in a global sport and associations like this one reinforce our stature within it," said Pastorino. "Partnerships like this will become more and more valuable for MLS teams as we develop into world-class clubs."
"We hope to bring RSL the exciting feel only the top level in European soccer can provide," added Kaenzig. "By playing against each other we will create the first ever Bundesliga-MLS teams home-and-away exhibition matches. Through our player & coach exchange the players and coaches of RSL will have a great opportunity to know what its like to compete in one of the best leagues in the world - they will be able to touch, smell and feel the highest level of European Soccer."