PHOENIX, April 12, 2017 /CNW/ -- Today, Phoenix Rising Football Club announced that legendary striker Didier Drogba has joined its MLS expansion franchise ownership group and will have a vested interest in the ongoing success of the USL side of the club. As part of the deal, Drogba will help develop the team as a player before advancing to an executive role with the Phoenix MLS expansion franchise.
The club is currently in its fourth season in the United Soccer League (USL), the largest division II league in the world. Per club and USL policy, the financial terms of the contract will not be made public.
"We want our club and our city to be synonymous with international excellence, and Didier Drogba is a testament to Phoenix Rising FC's commitment to that mission," said Phoenix Rising Club Governor Berke Bakay. "Soccer is an international language understood by sports fans all over the world, and we want to help inspire fluency among new fans every where we play throughout North America."
Drogba is known as the ultimate big-game player, winning 17 trophies in 22 major finals, including four Premier League titles, four FA Cups, three League Cups, two Community Shields, one Turkish Süper Lig, one Turkish Süper Kupa and one Turkish Küpasi. He spent nine years, 2004-2012 and the 2014/15 seasons, at Chelsea FC, making a total of 381 appearances scoring 161 goals. In 2012, he was part of Chelsea's greatest ever achievement in winning the coveted UEFA Champions League trophy. Drogba scored the equalizing goal, the game-winning penalty, and was chosen "Man-of-the-Match" at the UEFA Champions League Final.
On the international stage, Drogba has appeared in 106 matches and scored 66 career goals for the Ivory Coast. He led his national team to its first World Cup appearance in 2006 hosted in Germany and scored the country's first World Cup goal. He later captained the Ivory Coast in the 2010 (South Africa) and 2014 (Brazil) FIFA World Cups. Drogba is the Ivory Coast's all-time leading goal scorer.
"I have taken my time in deciding what I wanted to do next and am really excited about the opportunity at Phoenix Rising FC," Drogba said. "After seeing first hand the potential for expansion of the sport in North America and getting to know the ownership group in Phoenix, I am convinced that I can help them develop their organization on and off the pitch. I look forward to their continued success in the USL, and no city is better positioned than Phoenix for expansion into the MLS."
"The USL is a league on the rise, and today we welcome global superstar Didier Drogba, who joins the growing number of elite, world-class players and rising young talent who choose to make our league their home," said USL President Jake Edwards. "I also applaud Didier's commitment to further the overall growth of the game in North America. He will be a great ambassador for our sport, using his experience, talent and vision to benefit fans, as well as fellow players. His invaluable mentorship will guide our young stars in the locker room and on the field, contributing to the future success of our league and the game for years to come."
Phoenix Rising FC's next home match is Sunday, April 23, against Swope Park Rangers at the Phoenix Rising Soccer Complex. Tickets for the match are on sale and can be purchased at www.PHXRisingFC.com, and the match will be televised live in English and Spanish on YurView Arizona Cox channels 7 and 1007 (for High Definition) and YouTube.
About Phoenix Rising FC
Phoenix Rising FC is the highest-level professional soccer franchise in Arizona's history. Established in 2013, the club enters its fourth year in the United Soccer League, which has been awarded Division 2 status by the U.S. Soccer Federation. Major League Soccer (MLS) recently announced Phoenix Rising FC as among 12 applicants being considered for a MLS Expansion Franchise. Phoenix Rising FC played its inaugural match on March 25, 2017 before a sold-out, standing room only crowd in its new, soccer-specific stadium located at the northwest corner of the 101 and 202 freeways in south Scottsdale. For more information about the club, visit the team's website at PhxRisingFC.com. You can also follow the team on Facebook (PHXRisingFC), Twitter (@PHXRisingFC), Instagram (@PHXRisingFC), Snapchat (PHXRisingFC) and YouTube (PhoenixRisingFootballClub). For season tickets or single-game tickets call (623) 594-9606 or visit PHXRisingFC.com.
For downloadable Phoenix Rising FC stadium, player and fan images: https://www.dropbox.com/sh/ufacfnwbrywu6on/AACEiWEFhMzJOCvj54fYCRFCa?dl=0
About the USL
The USL is the world's largest Division II professional soccer league, with 30 markets in 20 U.S. states and two Canadian provinces for the 2017 season. In total, the USL reaches a population of 75 million people, fueling the growth of professional soccer across North America.
In 2016, more than $100 million were invested league-wide into stadium infrastructure to create venues that deliver an unforgettable fan and competitor experience. The USL has national media partnerships with ESPN and SiriusXM, and recently invested $10 million to create USL Productions – which includes a state-of-the-art facility that will produce and distribute nearly 500 league matches and more than 1,000 hours of original content to national partners, local affiliates, USL's Match Center and international markets.
A growing league, the USL has more than doubled in size since 2014, with Ottawa Fury FC, Reno 1868 FC and the Tampa Bay Rowdies debuting in 2017. Nashville SC is the first club set to join the league for 2018. Beyond league play, the USL regularly features international exhibitions against leading Premier League, Liga MX, and Bundesliga clubs, among others.
Headquartered in Tampa, Fla., the USL provides unparalleled club support with a growing team of 50 professionals across 17 departments, ranging from operations to marketing, communications and sponsorship. Follow the USL at USLSoccer.com, the USL Match Center, and on social media via Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.
SOURCE Phoenix Rising Football Club
For further information: Phoenix Rising FC -- H. Jose Bosch: 540.435.6097, [email protected]; Didier Drogba - Caroline McAteer: 44(0)207.434.3392, [email protected]; USL - Leonardo Santiago: 813-269-1343, [email protected], http://www.phxrisingfc.com