Play ball! Soccer, that is.

Some wealthy Americans are starting to take interest in the Beautiful Game

Play ball! Soccer, that is.

Michael Probst/AP

Football, footy, soccer—whatever you call it, most Americans still don’t get it. But that hasn’t stopped a few Americans, very wealthy ones, from taking a serious interest in the sport overseas. On April 11, U.S. billionaire Stan Kroenke bought Arsenal, the English soccer team, for US$1.2 billion in cash. Kroenke, who made his fortune in real estate development and then became considerably richer when he married Ann Walton of the Wal-Mart Walton clan, already sat on the team’s board of directors. Now the famed club is part of his growing sports empire, which includes the Denver Nuggets of the NBA and the NHL Colorado Avalanche. The deal came just days after basketball star LeBron James took a minority stake in the soccer club Liverpool. Last year, Fenway Sports Group, a company controlled by Florida hedge-fund manager John Henry and Hollywood producer Tom Werner, paid US$488 million to buy the club.

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