The Business Year

Fernando Cerrilla

MEXICO - Tourism

Can-do Attitude

Secretary General, Mexican Football Federation (FMF)

Bio

Fernando Cerrilla was named General Secretary of the Mexican Football Federation (FMF) in June 2012. Formerly, he was the Director for International Affairs in charge of all football activities outside of Mexico, including tournaments and the country’s relationship with FIFA, CONCACAF, and other football confederations. Prior to joining the football scene in 2003, he had a career in the financial industry for 24 years.

TBY talks to Fernando Cerrilla, Secretary General of the Mexican Football Federation (FMF), on Mexico's experience with hosting international events, the future of the FIFA 2016 bid, and collaborating with fans and players.

How has Mexico’s football infrastructure developed in recent years?

Mexico has extraordinary facilities in terms of football, and every year we have lots of interest from national clubs to build new stadiums. Right now, we have state-of-the-art stadiums in Guadalajara and Torreón, Tijuana is coming along with a new stadium, Monterrey has already started to build its own facility, and some other clubs made some key investments in 2011 due to the FIFA U-17 World Cup. In fact, we are in a phase of facility renovation and have built new infrastructure in Puebla in preparation for the CONCACAF U-20 World Cup Qualifiers, which Mexico hosted in February 2013. One of the main targets of the MX League and MX Ascenso, the main two leagues in our country, is to unify criteria and facilities among teams taking part in these championships, including press rooms, dressing rooms, facilities for the fans, benches, and so on. Obviously, this program is driving investment and the development of Mexican football. To be able to host any large sporting event, you must have infrastructure in terms of venues, logistics, and operations.

How optimistic are you about Mexico’s chances of hosting the 2026 FIFA World Cup?

Today, being in the run up to host a World Cup is very tough—competition among very large economic powers is hard. Nowadays, a 10-year-old stadium is considered old by FIFA, and investment in infrastructure such as stadiums, roads, accommodation, training facilities, and security is guided by very high standards. However, Mexico is highly committed to the global football family. Right now, we are in the process of analyzing the viability and future chances of hosting the 2026 FIFA World Cup.

What are the main steps that need to be overcome in order for Mexico to become successful in its bid?

Infrastructure is the key element in any bid; if you don’t have high-standard facilities to comply with FIFA’s guidelines, you do not have a chance. Additionally, government economic and infrastructure support is also required. A partnership in terms of the organization with the federal and state governments needs to be arranged in order to be able to provide high-quality services for the football family and other visitors.

What sort of partnerships have you been developing to build sponsorship support for Mexican football?

We have five major commercial partners: Adidas, Banamex, Coca-Cola, Maseca, and Movistar. With their economic support, we have been able to develop many nationwide programs, such as a youth program to improve the facilities of the FMF, a high-performance center, and youth dormitories both for men and women. In the past, we used to work with an outsourcing company to develop our marketing and commercial strategies. However, nine years ago we started up an in-house marketing department that has enabled us to work closer with our partners. Overall, in the last few years we have become closer to football fans. Nevertheless, there is a lot to be done.

What is your outlook for the football industry in 2013?

Together with Brazil, we were the only countries in the world that have taken part in all of the international football competitions in 2012, including men’s and women’s football, beach football, and futsal. The current year will be filled with lots of activity for Mexico. We have FIFA qualifiers against the US, Honduras, Panama, Costa Rica, and Jamaica, and we will attend both the FIFA Confederations Cup and the CONCACAF Gold Cup. We will host the CONCACAF U-20 Men’s competition, and we will have international qualifiers for youth national teams abroad. We are also organizing the second edition of the Mexico Nations Cup, which is an U-15 invitation tournament. There is no doubt that Mexico will go to all these international events with the right mentality to try to win, for we have proven to ourselves and to the world that Mexico can do it.

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