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CONCACAF agrees deal with Soccer United Marketing

The Confederation of North, Central America and Caribbean Association Football (CONCACAF) has chosen Soccer United Marketing to market and service the confederation's worldwide sponsorship rights.

The deal encompasses national team events such as the CONCACAF Gold Cup and CONCACAF Women's World Cup qualifying, club events including the CONCACAF Champions League, and CONCACAF youth championships at the under-15, U17, and U20 level. The agreement is slated to run through the end of 2021.

Soccer United Marketing (SUM) is the commercial arm of Major League Soccer and also won the commercial rights to this summer's Copa America Centenario along with sports and entertainment conglomerate IMG.

"CONCACAF is delighted to have reached this agreement with SUM, one of the most highly recognized marketing companies within the sport," said CONCACAF acting general secretary Ted Howard. "We are confident that SUM's global network and expertise will play a vital role in negotiating innovative sponsorship opportunities for our tournaments and events. This partnership will bring the Confederation's major competitions closer to fans, while expanding the reach of CONCACAF football throughout the region and the world."

"We are proud to be awarded the opportunity to represent CONCACAF's global sponsorship rights," said Kathy Carter, president of SUM. "Gold Cup, the Scotiabank CONCACAF Champions League and all of the other CONCACAF events are valuable properties that garner worldwide attention. There is a tremendous amount of value for brands looking to engage with the soccer fan in this diverse region."

The scandal-plagued confederation had been without a partner to market its commercial rights since last July, when it terminated its contract with Traffic Sports USA. That decision was made in the wake of federal indictments of officials from both organizations on corruption charges -- including former CONCACAF president Jeffrey Webb and former Traffic USA president Aaron Davidson -- as well as Traffic USA itself. In May of 2015 Traffic USA pleaded guilty to charges of wire fraud and conspiracy.

CONCACAF solicited bids by circulating a request for proposal to 24 international firms. The process took five months and a CONCACAF source indicated that at least four firms reached the first stage of evaluation, with SUM and another unnamed firm reaching the final round.

The firms were evaluated on a variety of criteria, including responsiveness, capabilities, resources, proposed financial models, the bidder's reputation, experience in the field, and preparedness to move quickly to market and service the rights. The CONCACAF source indicated that it was this last attribute that tipped the scales in SUM's favor.

The decision to recommend SUM was made by a variety of departments within CONCACAF including the marketing, finance, legal and procurement departments. The consulting firm Alvarez & Marsal also assisted in the evaluation. The recommendation was eventually forwarded to -- and approved by -- the CONCACAF Council, which has been running the confederation ever since the indictment of Webb's successor, Alfredo Hawit, last December.

The CONCACAF source said that any CONCACAF Council members whose home federations already did business with SUM were not permitted to participate in the evaluation process. This included U.S. Soccer Federation president Sunil Gulati and former Mexico Football Federation president Justino Compean.

Late last year, SUM and IMG acquired the commercial rights to this summer's Copa America Centenario, which is being hosted by the U.S. and jointly run by CONCACAF and its South American counterpart, CONMEBOL.

Jeff Carlisle covers MLS and the U.S. national team for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter @JeffreyCarlisle.

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