KANSAS CITY, Mo. – A new strategic partnership with four-time Brazilian champions Fluminense FC will guarantee an ongoing flow of players to Sporting Kansas City and other clubs affiliated with them.
Under the deal, announced Friday, Fluminense – the parent club of Sporting right back Igor Juliao, who is on loan to Kansas City through this season – commits to loan at least one player per year to Sporting. Other players will be loaned to Sporting's affiliates.
Kansas City manager and technical director Peter Vermes did not say whether the deal also paved the way for Sporting to keep Juliao beyond this season.
“I'd like to think that it's more positive,” Vermes said during the club's weekly news conference, “because now we have a relationship and I think they've been impressed with what his progression has been here.”
The deal also calls for an exchange of academy players and staff, as well as collaboration and the exchange of coaching, training and other club philosophies. The two clubs also will play friendly matches against each other and provide access to preseason training facilities, and the deal also provides more possibility for Sporting to loan players to Fluminense as well.
Sporting have had other offers to enter partnerships with foreign clubs, Vermes said Thursday, but have rejected them as being one-sided.
- Learn more about Sporting's new partnership at SportingKC.com
“We've looked for a lot of opportunities in this,” he said, “and the fact of the matter is, we got to a point where I didn't even look any more, because it always seemed like the relationships were always going to be one-way. They wanted all kinds of stuff from us, and we weren't going to get anything in return.”
Sporting began to build a relationship with Fluminense this preseason, when the two sides took place in the Walt Disney World Pro Soccer Classic in Orlando, Florida.
“When we did this deal with Fluminense for Igor to come on loan, we got to know those guys when we were down in Florida,” Vermes said. “They took the initiative to come up here twice to see what we do and how we do things, and two of our people went down there and spent some time with them, and it was a pleasure in having the discussions because you could tell that they were truly interested in a relationship that went both ways.”
Steve Brisendine covers Sporting Kansas City for MLSsoccer.com.