Orlando City SC has partnered with German club VfL Wolfsburg, which operates men’s and women’s teams in the Bundesliga and Frauen-Bundesliga, respectively.
Through this partnership, the clubs will share knowledge of men and women’s football and youth academies as well as benefit from best practices of overall club infrastructures, including work being done across marketing and sales divisions.
“This is a fantastic addition for Orlando City SC as we enter our fifth season in MLS and fourth in the NWSL,” said Niki Budalic, General Manager of Orlando City SC. “We enter 2019 with a solid understanding of where we’ve been and where we want to be and are confident this partnership with VfL Wolfsburg will be mutually beneficial as it continues to grow.
“VfL Wolfsburg is a world-class organization that understands the intricate needs of clubs running both men and women’s teams, values diversity and understands the importance of building culture within an organization - three qualities that are at the core of our business,” Budalic added.
This is Orlando City SC’s fourth international club partnership and the first with a club with a women’s team. With the addition of Wolfsburg, Orlando City now has ties to clubs in four of the world’s strongest footballing markets, with partner clubs in Germany, England, Portugal and Brazil.
The Club partnered with S.L. Benfica (Portugal) in June 2014 and signed two players, Rafael Ramos and Estrela, to MLS contracts ahead of its 2015 expansion season. In June 2015, Orlando City partnered with then-English Premier League side Stoke City to exchange best practices and open the door for player training and transfer opportunities and a friendly match between the clubs. In November 2016, the Club entered into a partnership with Club Atletico Paranaense (Brazil) to exchange practices, information and players to improve the Development Academy.
Wolfsburg is a founding member of the Frauen-Bundesliga, Germany’s top-flight for women’s soccer, and has won the league four times in the last six seasons. The club has also won two UEFA Champions League titles and five domestic cups in the last six years. In 2013, Wolfsburg claimed a treble, capturing the league, domestic cup and UEFA Women’s Champions League.
The team is currently atop the Frauen-Bundesliga, 17 points clear of second place. Orlando Pride midfielder Emily van Egmond played for the side in the 2016-17 season before returning to Australia’s W-League and eventually joining the Pride.
“We have high hopes for this inaugural partnership with an MLS club,” said Marcel Schäfer, sporting director for VfL Wolfsburg. “We intend to lend our expertise in all areas, but we can also learn a lot from how U.S. clubs are structured. I was able to experience first-hand how professional and creative the Americans are during my time in the USA. We’re delighted to be working with Orlando City and Orlando Pride.
Having a top-quality women's team isn't the only similarity between the two clubs. Both are passionate about diversity, fighting discrimination and inclusion for all fans.
“Values such as this are an important part of any partnership,” Schäfer added. “This is one of the key reasons we decided to work together with Orlando."