Kathy Carter- President, Soccer United Marketing Share PDF Print E-mail
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Kathy Carter is President of Major League Soccer’s commercial subsidiary, Soccer United Marketing, where she oversees the sales and servicing of many soccer properties in the United States.

In addition, Kathy serves as the U.S. representative on FIFA's Committee for Women's Football and the FIFA Women's World Cup.
Prior to her position with SUM, Kathy served as Vice President, Sales and Marketing for Anschutz Entertainment Group (AEG), where she helped strike major partnership deals with The Home Depot Center, whilst administering the sponsorship sales division.
Before her time with AEG, Kathy served as Vice President for Envision, where opened and managed the firm’s New York office, which focused primarily on facility representation. Carter joined Envision from ISL United States in 2001, where she held the position of Vice President, Sales and Marketing.
Having serving as Major League Soccer's Vice President of Corporate Marketing from its beginning until late 1999, Kathy has witnessed incredible rise of the sport in the United States. Her journey with the League office came off the back of two years with the World Cup USA 1994 organizing committee.
Kathy has picked up numerous awards for her accomplishments in sports business, including the SportsBusiness Journal award, Crain's New York Business Forty Under 40 award and the 2009 Women in Sports and Events (WISE) award.
By Edward Rangsi
You’re the U.S. representative on FIFA's Committee for Women's Football and the FIFA Women's World Cup. What was your reaction to hearing that that the US Women's Professional Soccer League has been cancelled for 2012? Will women’s football ever be commercially viable?
It certainly wasn’t good news to hear, but I believe in the future of women’s professional soccer.  We are very interested to track the progress of the leagues throughout Europe and to learn how their different business models might help us look at a league in the United States differently.  Needless to say, we believe the U.S. Women’s National team continues to be among the best in the World, but to continue that we need to figure out how to provide these players with a place to play.
Sports business, like many other sectors is still dominated by men, perhaps even more so with the collapse of the WPS, do you have any advice for any females wanting to get involved in the sport from both a business and coaching standpoint?
Work hard, make sure to have a voice at the table and follow your passion. I am so fortunate to work in the sport that I love so much and that has played such a big part in my life, from childhood to college and throughout my career. I was positively affected by the passage of Title IX forty years ago this year. I never knew the day when somebody said no to me because of my gender. I was very fortunate. But nothing substitutes for hard work. You have to outwork the competition.
Has SUM it succeeded in its initial aims to consolidate the marketing and commercial rights around soccer?
SUM has done well and been successful, but we still have a lot of work to do. We have assembled a very capable team here that is dedicated to advancing our sport. The soccer marketplace continues to grow. We have Fortune 500 companies that now see the importance of aligning with our sport. Broadcast partners are showing more and more soccer.  And of course, global international clubs continue to see the U.S. as a growth market.  Our ability to maximize all of this interest in the sport and continue to grow the fan base remains key to our long term mission.
Has SUM's creation helped companies to market their products more effectively?
Without question. I’d encourage you to speak with executives at Adidas, Anheuser-Busch, Pepsi, to only name a few. We have also created MLS Digital Properties, the only soccer advertising network of its kind, covering all facets of the sport in the U.S., including professional, youth and news. MLS Digital Properties network allows advertisers to reach millions of American Soccer fans with one ad buy.
How would you describe the interaction between SUM and MLS clubs - have you centralised all commercial activity or do clubs still have the freedom to market their company for themselves  either locally or on a national level?
We talk to the clubs every single day. It is a combined team effort, without question. The clubs have a lot of commercial autonomy in their markets. We share best practices. They ask us for advice, we ask them for advice. For our sport to be successful we need to be sharp at both the national and local level. We have a lot of very smart and passionate people running our clubs, which is key.
Is there a role for social media as a communication tool in an effort to build the MLS brand and have you been successful in monetizing your social media assets?
We are happy about our social media presence. Our Facebook and Twitter accounts are very active and our fans interact with the League and all of our clubs regularly. MLS’ website, MLSsoccer.com, is the leading soccer site in North America. Our editorial staff there is second to none, providing robust coverage of The Beautiful Game. An example of our social media presence is that the LA Galaxy has more than 400,000 Likes on Facebook. Right now they are running a really innovative contest on their Facebook page that has been receiving a lot of media attention. Fans can design the Galaxy’s 2013-14 3rd Kit at www.facebook.com/lagalaxy. Our clubs are very creative when it comes to social media.
You’ve been involved with the league before taking up your position at SUM, therefore have witnessed the incredible growth of the sport in North America. What would you consider to be the main reasons for the growth?
There are so many. The building of 14 soccer-specific stadiums, the diversification of our ownership group, expanding into markets that love and have embraced soccer, markets like Seattle, Portland, Salt Lake City, Vancouver, Montreal, Philadelphia, the development of our supporters culture, having big name talent play in our League, players like Donovan, Beckham, Henry. Clearly, the quality of our game has improved. We also have incredibly supportive corporate partners who support our sport at all levels. We now have 3 broadcast partners in ESPN, NBC and Univision that believe in our League and are putting on first-class productions. All of these different elements have contributed to the growth of our League.
In terms of expansion, what do you believe is the next step?
We have been very forthright that our focus for our 20th club is to have a second club in New York. We are working hard to make that happen.
Has the ‘Beckham experiment’ and the importation of other high-profile players been successful?
Having David Beckham play in our League has been fantastic. He helped LA win MLS Cup last year. There isn’t a hardcore soccer fan in the world that doesn’t know the LA Galaxy. Beckham is a special athlete that transcends the sport he plays. He cuts through the clutter in the media. People are fascinated by his story, by his family and he’s been a committed player in MLS. He’s persevered through injuries and won a championship. He’s a role model for younger players and we’re excited that he’s signed a new multi-year contract with LA.
How important is it to have a soccer-specific stadium or do you think that clubs can be successful in multi sports stadia?
Soccer-specific stadiums serve as true homes for the community and these venues are placing permanent roots for the professional game in the United States and Canada. Each stadium serves as an aspirational destination for the countless young soccer players in the area who will be able to play in the shadows of the venue with the hope of someday playing on the same field as their heroes.
Passionate fans and organized supporters groups are part of what makes attending a Major League Soccer match or a soccer game throughout the world so special. Supporters provide a festive environment that is unique in the U.S. and Canada. Nothing compares to the atmosphere in some MLS stadiums. There have been 14 stadiums built or renovated for soccer since 1999, 10 since 2005. The stadium in Houston, BBVA Compass Stadium, recently opened. Montreal’s new stadium, Saputo Stadium, will debut later this year. 15 of 19 MLS clubs will be playing in stadiums built with soccer in mind. The progress that we’ve made on that front is really incredible, and we aren’t done. In fact, San Jose recently received the green light on its new venue, which will be MLS’ 15th stadium.
Kathy Carter’s
Photo credit: SUM

In addition, Kathy serves as the U.S. representative on FIFA's Committee for Women's Football and the FIFA Women's World Cup.

Prior to her position with SUM, Kathy served as Vice President, Sales and Marketing for Anschutz Entertainment Group (AEG), where she helped strike major partnership deals with The Home Depot Center, whilst administering the sponsorship sales division.

Before her time with AEG, Kathy occupied the position of Vice President for Envision, where she opened and managed the firm’s New York office, which focused primarily on facility representation. Carter joined Envision from ISL United States in 2001, where she held the position of Vice President, Sales and Marketing.

Having served as Major League Soccer's Vice President of Corporate Marketing from its beginning until late 1999, Kathy has witnessed the incredible rise of the sport in the United States. Her journey with the League office came after she spent two years with the World Cup USA 1994 organizing committee.

Kathy has picked up numerous awards for her accomplishments in sports business, including the SportsBusiness Journal award, Crain's New York Business Forty Under 40 award and the 2009 Women in Sports and Events (WISE) award.

By Edward Rangsi


What are your thoughts regarding the cancellation of the US Women's Professional Soccer League for 2012? 

It certainly wasn’t good news to hear, but I believe in the future of women’s professional soccer.  We are very interested to track the progress of the leagues throughout Europe and to learn how their different business models might help us look at a league in the United States differently.  Needless to say, we believe the U.S. Women’s National team continues to be among the best in the World, but to continue that we need to figure out how to provide these players with a place to play.

Sports business is still dominated by men, perhaps even more so now with the collapse of the WPS. Do you have any advice for any females wanting to get involved in the sport from both a business and coaching standpoint?

Work hard, make sure to have a voice at the table and follow your passion. I am so fortunate to work in the sport that I love so much and that has played such a big part in my life, from childhood to college and throughout my career. I was positively affected by the passage of Title IX forty years ago this year. I never knew the day when somebody said no to me because of my gender. I was very fortunate. But nothing substitutes for hard work. You have to outwork the competition.

Has SUM it succeeded in its initial aims to consolidate the marketing and commercial rights around soccer?

SUM has done well and been successful, but we still have a lot of work to do. We have assembled a very capable team here that is dedicated to advancing our sport. The soccer marketplace continues to grow. We have Fortune 500 companies that now see the importance of aligning with our sport. Broadcast partners are showing more and more soccer. And, of course, global international clubs continue to see the U.S. as a growth market. Our ability to maximize all of this interest in the sport and continue to grow the fan base remains key to our long term mission.

Has SUM's creation helped companies to market their products more effectively?

Without question. I’d encourage you to speak with executives at Adidas, Anheuser-Busch, Pepsi, to only name a few. We have also created MLS Digital Properties, the only soccer advertising network of its kind, covering all facets of the sport in the U.S., including professional, youth and news. MLS Digital Properties network allows advertisers to reach millions of American Soccer fans with one ad buy.

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Comments  

 
0 #1 Jim Cartwright 2012-06-24 00:51
Great feature, however as an avid supporter of Women's sports here in New England, we need the support of SUM and FIFA to convince the New England Revolution to expand their already stretched budget to embrace women's soccer. The Kraft family needs to build a soccer specific stadium...for the good of the men's team survival...and for women's soccer to not vanish from all of New England. Currently, with the newly formed WPSL Elite Boston Breakers, comprised of a few of the former WPS team members and some new draftees, they are playing in a 2,500 single sided bleacher stadium (with lights) just North of Boston (Somerville, Mass). But the season ends at the end of July...as the Olympics begin...and prospects of a 2013 season is
dim. As a local,we do have one of the former "large" New York Sponsors, Sahlen's who also owns the WPSL Elite Western NY Flash...who has a daughter on the team, who may be of some help to you in keeping the sport alive...contact me if you would like!
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