Enzo Francescoli’s 72 caps for the Uruguayan national team are the most in his country’s history. The Prince, as he was known as a player, chats with Total Futbol about his career, his international project – GolTV – and the state of soccer in the U.S. and beyond.
When you started GolTV, what was your vision? How close was the vision to the reality?
“The vision and the goals have already been reached. We are where we wanted to be. Now, it’s getting even bigger and more important than we ever thought it would be. The basic idea was to be a reference for soccer in the U.S. We felt that there was not a destination for soccer fans in the U.S. We wanted to create a network where fans knew they could find good quality soccer all over the world.”
How has the dramatic shift in both the media business model and the world economy changed your focus?
“The first reaction to the economic situation is, of course, to worry about it, but entertainment – and sports inside of entertainment – is very resilient to crisis because people are always looking for this kind of programming, and sometimes it can be even better in a crisis. People watch more TV and maybe want to watch fun [programming]. Our business depends a lot on subscribers, and we haven’t seen any impact at all. Advertising has been impacted some by the crisis, but it’s not the most important thing to GolTV.”
Why has professional soccer failed in Miami when it has the demographics to succeed?
“First of all, the MLS is taking very long to develop and grow and bring fans to the sport. It looks like it’s going take a long time for them to do it. Miami’s kind of an ideal place for soccer because of the demographics. The investment necessary to have an MLS team here, it’s a very important one. The whole business model of the MLS is not what a typical model. You saw what happened with Barcelona. It was close, but they didn’t feel comfortable enough to make this kind of investment here.”
What is the future of soccer in the United States?
“The future depends a lot on how MLS evolves, especially on the specifics of controlling the soccer players that teams and clubs can bring to the U.S. Unless it becomes more open, to allow each team to make its own decisions, in bringing in good soccer players. This could change the game. But if the MLS is insisting on this tight kind of control, I don’t see a bright future.”
Who is the world’s best soccer player? Why?
“That’s difficult, but for me, Messi. He’s young, he’s very fast player, very technical player, he’s the most complete player. He’s scoring 15, 20 goals a season. If you take the other ones, like Cristiano Ronaldo, [Messi] is the one who has the potential to be even better.”
If you had one moment you’d want the world to remember you for, what would it be?
“I would like people to remember me for the person that I am, and not one specific moment.”