FC Cincinnati and Bundesliga club TSG Hoffenheim have formed a strategic partnership, the clubs announced Friday.
The partnership promises collaboration between the two clubs, specifically focusing on knowledge, talent, business and brand/corporate social responsibility. The clubs say the ultimate goal of the partnership is to build resources, create new opportunities and open up new revenue potentials for both. FCC president Jeff Berding revealed there is likely to be a friendly between the clubs at some point as well.
“It’s a very special day, to go to the next stage in developing our beautiful club," GM Gerard Nijkamp told media on a virtual press conference.
Hoffenheim finished sixth in the Bundesliga last year, a club that competed in the Champions League in 2018/19 and qualified for the Europa League this season. The partnership opens possibilities for loan opportunities as well as training stints between the clubs.
This idea has been in the works since Nijkamp interviewed for Cincy's GM job in the spring of 2019, while discussions with Hoffenheim started about six months ago.
"The first moment I started my conversations with FC Cincinnati, this was part of our conversations," Nijkamp said. "Not only to find knowledge and expertise within our club, but to find clubs abroad who can help develop the club. From the moment I started with the team, I was trying to identify potential partners.”
On the technical side of the partnership, Cincinnati expect to expand talent identification, scouting knowledge, best practices and much more. The club could also be a place where Hoffenheim send players on loan, or even a bridge for players that the Bundesliga club acquire in South America before heading to Europe.
“The exchange of players must be a very important part (of the partnership,)" Nijkamp said. "But not only FC Cincinnati to Hoffenheim, but Hoffenheim to our club. There are players in the process of maybe needing more time, but not ready to play in the Bundesliga, but could experience games at our club.”
The Orange and Blue are in their second MLS season, currently in 11th place in the Eastern Conference.
"'We are delighted to have gained a cooperation partner in the USA's growing football market,” Hoffenheim managing director Dr. Peter Görlich said in a club statement. “Many shared values connect us with FC Cincinnati, including a commitment to social responsibility, a clear focus on elite-level sport and a consistently innovative approach. We are striving for a wide-ranging partnership that will not only focus on the football academies and the mutual exchange of innovations, but will also bolster our companies with a brand and image exchange."