The guy sounds like a real gem.
Other interesting quotes:
The Sporting Kansas City game to which I invited Claure was the first he ever attended. He was excited. “They’ve got crazy fans here,” he said before kickoff. “I heard they’re sold out every time.”
The game was a sellout. The atmosphere felt electric, surprisingly so, since the hometown Royals had a playoff game in Baltimore at the same time. Kansas City backs all its teams, Claure learned in the short time he’d lived in the city. “For example, I go to see the Royals games, it’s so much fun,” he told me. “I go to the Chiefs games, there’s 80,000 people dressed in red. They die for their team. The fountains are in red. I mean, the whole city gets behind them. That’s something Miami could be a little better at.”
Claure got us seats both in the Sprint box and also outside, at midfield, in the very first row. I’ve never sat closer to the pitch during a professional game. When we were up in the skybox, team officials brought over personalized “Claure” jerseys for Marcelo, his wife, and for both of their young daughters. Everyone received scarves, too. At halftime, Cliff Illig, one of Sporting Kansas City’s five principal owners, stepped in to introduce himself. We talked a bit about Howler, and about my being there to write about Claure. Another owner, Robb Heineman, joined the conversation.
Claure asked about the stadium. It was beautiful, he said. How much did it cost to build? They told him. Any public money involved? There was. He hadn’t realized the stadium was located so far from downtown, apparently unaware of the MLS stadiums in Commerce City, Foxborough, Chester, Bridgeview, Harrison, Sandy, Carson, and Frisco. Is the club making money? he asked. “Just barely,” said Illig, really drawing out the word “just.” Who are your most expensive players? Heineman said their costliest signing was the Argentine forward Claudio Bieler. He sounded frustrated. Bieler was having a tough season.
“That’s sports,” Heineman explained with a shrug. You do your homework, you make smart decisions, and things can still go wrong. One aspect of MLS that both Kansas City owners really liked was the centralized structure. All the players are owned by the league, which helps keep payroll—and the players—in check.
“If labor ever tells us they’re going to strike, we’d be like, ‘Fine, we’ll replace each and every one of you,’” said Heineman.
I believe SKC is currently disputing the accuracy of this conversation...
From Sporting Kansas City on 2.13.15: “Sporting Kansas City steadfastly denies that these statements were made and object [sic] to the method used by the reporter.”
From Mr. Claure on 2.13.15: “Mr. Powell’s story includes words I never said. Our box at Sporting Park was loud and crowded, it was a lively match, and there were no notes recorded, so Mr. Powell must have misheard my comments about Major League Soccer. That’s unfortunate, because one of the most important points I made was my belief that MLS will be the world’s premier league in 10 years due to an ownership model that promotes competitiveness and parity across all teams.”
From Sporting Kansas City on 2.23.15: “On behalf of Sporting Kansas City and Major League Soccer, we are extremely dissatisfied with the validity of what has been presented regarding Robert Powell’s article and the unauthorized, unscrupulous technique in which [sic] was used. We completely deny and disagree with the alleged quotes, context, and description of what transpired for less than six minutes in the private suite at the Sporting Kansas City versus Chicago Fire match on October 10, 2014. The unethical nature and inaccuracies from Howler are surprising and disappointing, and this situation has irreparably damaged the relationship. We had given unfettered access to Howler in the past, going above and beyond for articles, MLS media and marketing tour [sic], big events and more. In light of what is transpiring, we will no longer accommodate your publication in the future and are doing so with the support of Major League Soccer.”