USMNT players look forward to benefiting from the World Cup

With the 2022 FIFA World Cup just months away, prospective members of the US men’s national soccer team are starting to make money from the quadrennial spotlight on American football.

Look no further than Walker Zimmerman, whose endorsement income has grown fivefold this year. Heading into 2022, the Nashville SC central defender’s off-field activity has been limited to partnerships with Adidas and audio equipment manufacturer JLab. However, twice a year the top defender in MLS was in much more demand as the World Cup approached.

Just last week, Garrett Hess, senior director of business development at ProSport Management, finalized two new deals for Zimmerman with EA Sports and the Pup-Peroni dog treatment brand, for which he will appear in a Whistle-sponsored web series. He also added deals with Renasant Bank, Heineken, AT&T and Topps this year.

Last week, Walker Zimmerman added two more deals to his endorsement list.Getty Images

“I think what’s so special about Walker is his story,” Hess said. “He’s an American who plays locally at MLS, and now he’s starting to shine on the national team and all indications are that he will be a huge part of the World Cup squad.”

Hess said about half of Zimmermann’s deals are for the World Cup, with the others extending beyond this year.

The World Cup finals in Qatar this fall will be the first the United States will participate in since 2014 in Brazil. During that tournament, goalkeeper Tim Howard emerged as a household name and profited afterwards. His agent, Wasserman, Global Football executive vice president Dan Segal, said brands that are associated with players in the run-up to the World Cup have a chance of getting in early with a potential superstar.

“In the lead up to that, you get commercial interest because people are betting on the way things are going,” he said. “Tim in 2014 had some of that beforehand, but then he had his World Cup break moment and things translated after the World Cup to be a much bigger deal.”

Segal expects the next two months to be a prime time for dealmaking, with the actual announcement hitting the airwaves in late fall. He said that individual player endorsements typically start with the low six, while group deals are worth tens of thousands for each participating player.

Some of America’s current football sponsors have already started booking individual player deals with the World Cup in mind. For example, AT&T signed an endorsement deal that includes Wasserman clients Brenden Aaronson, Jesus Ferreira, Weston McKennie, Gio Reyna, Miles Robinson and Matt Turner.

Wasserman’s agent and former player for the men’s national team, Corey Gibbs, said there are far more opportunities today for mid-level players to take advantage of the World Cup than there were during his playing days.

“In the past, it was only about the players in the first list, but now they have moved on to the likes of the whole team who had chances when I was playing for the national team, no one had heard of them,” he said.

Prospective members of this year’s national team aren’t the only ones to benefit from the upcoming World Cup. Wasserman said Wasserman had endorsement opportunities for American football legends such as Howard with Adobe and Landon Donovan with Avocados from Mexico.

Pulisic Home Wallet

While many members of the men’s national team will seek to increase the business opportunities surrounding the World Cup, the most well-known member of the team is more focused on helping its existing partners make the most of the World Cup.

Christian Pulisic, a Pennsylvania native who stars in English club Chelsea, already has a portfolio that includes Puma, Panini, Hershey, EA Sports, Chipotle, Gatorade, Michelob Ultra and Volkswagen.

Matthew Moore of Center Circle Consulting, who has represented Pulisic since his teens, said the 23-year-old has room to add one or two long-term partnerships, but he’s not looking to make quick cash around the World Cup.

“There has been a lot of interest in Christians, particularly by brands looking for more opportunistic activities around the World Cup,” Moore said. “Our strategy has always been the least advantageous approach: to look for fewer sponsors, but at a higher price.”

Moore began reaching out to Pulisic partners in February about their revitalization plans for 2022 and set up an uninhibited team in Jupiter, Florida last month, where all of his partners can film World Cup creations during the holiday season.

In addition to sponsorship, the Pulisic actor has sought to create one notable non-sphere media appearance each year as opportunities to build his profile in the United States, and these have included features with GQ, “60 Minutes” on CBS, and “Nightline” on ABC. He and Pulisic are considering a few of these opportunities ahead of the World Cup.

“It was our goal from the start to get Christian to move beyond football,” Moore said, adding that the World Cup should help boost Pulisic’s reach beyond the sport’s hardcore fans.

The mid-October issue of Pulisic’s upcoming memoir, “Pulisic: My Journey So Far” by publisher Rizzoli is also timed to take advantage of the hype around the World Cup.

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