NEW YORK--(BUSINESS WIRE)--RSE Ventures announced today the launch of a new soccer division which will expand its footprint into the world of international sports. RSE has tapped soccer industry veterans Charlie Stillitano and Jon Sheiman as CEO and COO, respectively, to lead the newly-created division. Formerly with CAA Sports, a division of Creative Artists Agency (CAA), the world’s leading entertainment and sports agency, Stillitano and Sheiman will bring their staff of soccer professionals to the new venture. RSE also announced that it has acquired the rights to the World Football Challenge, international soccer’s premier pre-season tournament, as part of an agreement with CAA Sports.
“International soccer is experiencing a tremendous surge of interest in the United States and RSE plans to be at the forefront of this transformation,” said Matt Higgins, CEO of RSE Ventures. “The time is right to elevate the platform of the World Football Challenge – showcasing Sun Life Stadium and other great US venues as premiere destinations for the world’s elite clubs. To lead this effort, we’re pleased to welcome the pioneers in the international match business with deep relationships spanning the globe.”
In recent years, Miami has emerged as a leading destination for international soccer teams touring North America. In all, nearly 200,000 fans have attended the four international soccer matches in Miami at Sun Life Stadium since the summer of 2011. 70,080 fans attended the FC Barcelona vs. C.D. Guadalajara friendly in August 2011. Sun Life Stadium also hosted Lionel Messi and other international superstars as part of the World Masters Tour this past June and had the highest-attended contest of the 2012 World Football Challenge with 57,748 enthusiastic fans watching Chelsea FC face-off against AC Milan in July. The highest television ratings in the country for the World Cup have been in South Florida.
Heading the charge to enhance this past success and help continue to bring more international matches and tournaments to the United States will be Stillitano and Sheiman, working in partnership with RSE’s sports marketing portfolio company Insignia Sports & Entertainment. Stillitano began his career in international soccer in 1992, when he served as the New York/New Jersey Venue Executive Director for the 1994 FIFA World Cup. During his tenure, he successfully organized and hosted seven World Cup matches.
“I’m excited to be joining RSE Ventures in the world of international soccer,” Stillitano said. “With Steve Ross’s vision and the resources of RSE, including the prowess of Insignia Sports & Entertainment, the potential to capitalize on the growth of soccer in North America is limitless.”
Following the 1994 FIFA World Cup, Stillitano was named Vice President and General Manager of the New York/New Jersey MetroStars of Major League Soccer, which was owned by John Kluge and Stuart Subotnick of the Metromedia Company. While with the MetroStars, Stillitano created an international division that was responsible for creating and implementing numerous successful soccer events, including the 1995 Parmalat Cup, 1996 FIFA World All-Star Game, and the 1996 U.S. Cup.
Stillitano served as an inaugural board member of the U.S. Soccer Foundation from 1993 to 2007 and as its Vice Chairman for 11 years, during which time he served as the principal founder and CEO of ChampionsWorld LLC. In this role, Stillitano created the ChampionWorld Series, which featured a collection of the world’s top international football clubs in matches during the summers of 2003 and 2004, including soccer giants Manchester United, Chelsea FC, AS Roma, FC Barcelona, Juventus FC, AC Milan, Celtic FC, Bayern Munich, Boca Juniors, Galatasaray, and Liverpool FC.
Stillitano has also been at the forefront of many key international football initiatives, including the negotiation of the historic Manchester United – YankeeNets marketing partnership.
Since 2007, Charlie was an executive at CAA Sports.
Stillitano presently hosts a daily radio talk show, produced by Sheiman, entitled “The Football Show” for Sirius Satellite Radio, which regularly features the biggest names in the international football world.
For his part, Sheiman began his career in international soccer in 1999 where he served as an international program manager for ISI, and later, The SFX Sports Group. While with the SFX Sports Group, Sheiman designed and implemented the company’s entry strategy into the Brazilian sports market focusing on athlete representation, stadium management, professional club consulting, and event management. In 2003, he was the Co-Founder and Senior Vice President of ChampionsWorld LLC. Sheiman also developed and managed the ticketing plans for the ChampionsWorld Series, an event that grossed over $50 Million during the summers of 2003 and 2004. Sheiman then became the Chief Operating officer of CWS Events Corp., a consulting organization that focused on the brand development of elite international sports properties. In 2007, Sheiman joined CAA Sports, along with Charlie Stillitano.
Sheiman summed up the new venture: “The opportunity to join RSE in the creation and management of premiere soccer events, particularly in South Florida, is extremely compelling. The foundation that RSE provides will allow us to deliver unparalleled fan experiences.”
About RSE Ventures
Founded in 2012 by Stephen M. Ross and Matt Higgins, RSE Ventures operates in four interrelated verticals: Sports, Entertainment, Digital, and New Ventures. The company’s growing roster of companies, venues and events includes the NFL's Miami Dolphins, Sun Life Stadium, Insignia Sports & Entertainment, and the newly created soccer division.