Orlando, Fla. - Orlando City SC announced today an innovative strategic partnership with Portuguese first-division side SL Benfica, which is one of the largest clubs in Europe. The agreement sets forth cooperation in a variety of areas, including:
Sharing evaluations regarding professional and youth soccer players.
Arranging potential friendly matches between the Clubs in the U.S. and in Portugal.
Providing opportunities for both Clubs’ players to train with the other team.
Cooperation to share professional knowledge regarding the business side of the industry (e.g., marketing, sales, etc.).
Developing of an innovative strategic plan between both clubs to develop and promote access to scholarships for colleges and universities in the United States for not only soccer players, but also to other athletes.
"This partnership is another exciting step in Orlando City’s long-term development plans as it brings us additional knowledge and experience from one of the largest and most successful clubs in the world,” added Orlando City Majority Owner Flavio Augusto da Silva. “Benfica has been one of the most successfully operated soccer clubs in the world by developing talent of all ages, winning titles and reconciling sports performances with a wide variety of modern and professional management components.”
Benfica, which boasts one of the largest fan bases in the world, is a multi-sport club based in Lisbon, Portugal. Benfica, which is best known for its soccer team, has won over 70 championships in its history. The reigning Portuguese league soccer champion is also the only club to have won every Portuguese competition, including a record 33 Premeira league championship titles.
“This agreement represents a partnership with a new MLS club with large ambitions led by a widely respected entrepreneur in Flavio Agusto,” said SL Benfica President Luis Filipe Vieira. “It’s also important to note that the agreement is not limited only to football. It also involves a social and educational aspect by enabling high-performance athletes to access scholarships in the U.S. market and the reconciliation of competitive sports with a high quality education level.”
Potential future international matches between Orlando City and Benfica will add to the list of high-profile international friendlies held in the City Beautiful since the arrival of Orlando City in 2011. Throughout the past three years in USL PRO, the Lions have played exhibitions against first-division clubs in England (e.g., Bolton Wanderers, Newcastle United & Stoke City), Brazil (e.g., Fluminense & Sao Paulo) and Italy (e.g., AS Roma).
“Benfica is a club I’ve always had an enormous amount of respect for,” said Head Coach Adrian Heath. “The opportunity for Orlando City to work closely with and to learn from Benfica’s staff will be a great positive for our organization.”
The agreement between the Clubs is compliant with (and subject to) all applicable FIFA, UEFA and MLS rules.