Phoenix FC may not have an affiliation with a MLS club yet, but it may be forming a more interesting, arguably better one with another club from another country.
Brazil’s Botafogo. One of the 13 founding members of Clube dos 13 and is considered one of the powers of Brazilian club football.
According to reports out of Brazil last month (here and here), Botafogo President Mauricio Assumpção is aiming to give his club more international recognition, specifically in the U.S. And the first step is to form a partnership with Phoenix FC, an affiliation that includes sending Botafogo reserves and youth players on loan to Phoenix.
(Assumpção is also planning to have Botafogo play friendly matches in the U.S. this summer during the World Cup then field a “Botafogo USA”-like professional club in one of the U.S. professional soccer leagues. There is no word whether that club will be Phoenix FC.)
A Botafogo representative told Brazilian media that the club had also talked with Orlando City President Phil Rawlins and MLS brass in “Tampa.” Botafogo officials are going back to Orlando this coming week to attend the fifth annual Walt Disney World Pro Soccer Classic at Disney’s ESPN Wide World of Sports to talk with USL PRO officials.
Phoenix FC has had connections in Brazil through Managing Director Rui Filipe Bento, whose relationship with a Brazilian agent helped bring in former Santos players Diego Faria, Netinho and Renan Felipe Boufleur last season.
Bento’s connections may be bearing fruit again with a Brazilian named Andre Chaves, who does not have a direct connection with Botafogo but looks to have been the liaison between Phoenix FC and Botafogo. Chaves and acquaintance Ricardo Geromel (who was seen shadowing Bento at Phoenix FC’s open tryouts earlier this month) have been working with Phoenix FC since at least last November.
The two met with Phoenix FC officials in November. The group even attended a Phoenix Coyotes game in a suite with City of Glendale Councilmember Gary Sherwood and Economic Development Administrator Jeanine Jerkovic. According to a public “City of Glendale Suite Reservation Form” for Jobing.com Arena, the purpose of the meeting at the Coyotes game was:
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Assumpção told Brazilian media that Chaves bought the franchise rights of Phoenix FC, whose franchise rights were given to American Soccer Marketing (owned by former interim President Tim Donald) by USL PRO in December.
But Chaves, who ODFCnews.com emailed for an interview request Saturday morning, told Phoenix FC fan John McPherson on Twitter that his partnership as well as a potential one between Botafogo and Phoenix FC is not yet official. Chaves did set a deadline for this coming Thursday whether any affiliation will go through.
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If the partnership does go through, it could potentially help Phoenix FC, which finished second-to-last in the USL PRO standings last season, on the field. USL PRO allows its clubs seven roster spots for international players. Diego Faria and Netinho are expected to return in 2014. And Ghanaian midfielder Laryea Kingston has said he is also joining Phoenix FC. So Botafogo may send 4-7 players on loan for this upcoming season.
Note: Phoenix FC is expected to release season ticket information on Sunday and reveal its 2014 jerseys on Feb. 23.