Let the Tournament Begin (and some news from Vancouver)

The World Cup is here and footiebusiness will take on a decidedly World Cup flavor for the next little while.   Before we get there, MLS gets lead billing one more time with the report that Canadian communications giant Bell will be the Whitecaps jersey sponsor when the team starts play in 2011.  The multi-year deal will see all Whitecaps teams wear the uniform,  including men’s, women’s, residency and prospects teams.

As part of the relationship, there will also be exclusive mobile video content.  According to the Digital Journal, “through an exclusive agreement with Whitecaps FC and MLS, Bell mobile clients will be able to view unique Whitecaps FC content on their mobile smartphones beginning in 2011. This will include live matches, behind-the-scenes access to Whitecaps players and coaches and other Whitecaps-specific mobile applications.”

Speaking of mobile media, ESPN mobile will have all World Cup matches available with almost all games available on many platforms.  At the same time, ESPN is making its ESPN3.com service a centerpiece of its World Cup coverage.  ESPN’s broadband sports network will carry 54 matches live and will include enhanced viewing options, milestone markers, customizable widgets and more. Because so many Americans will be at work, ESPN3.com is expecting record traffic during the World Cup with its live coverage.

Finally, kudos to ESPN for its fantastic Thursday night soccer coverage.  The three hour World Cup preview was special and saw anchors Chris Fowler, Bob Ley and Mike Tirico with prominent roles.  The production value was outstanding and The showing of classic World Cup matches has been constant and the hour long Rick Reilly special with Landon Donovan was also fantastic.  Sponsors for these programs included Corona, Penzoil, AT&T and more.