June 23rd, 2024

Mexican brothers look forward to CPL adventure as owners of York United FC

By Neil Davidson, The Canadian Press on April 9, 2024.

Mexican brothers Miguel, Ricardo and Eduardo Pasquel (left to right) of Game Plan Sports Group, the new owners of York United FC, are pictured at their official unveiling on Dec. 7, 2023. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-David Chant/York United FC **MANDATORY CREDIT**

TORONTO – Ricardo Pasquel survived a Canadian winter. Now the fun really begins

The Mexico City native and his two brothers, Eduardo and Miguel, are looking forward to their first season as owners of York United FC. Game Plan Sports Group, led by the brothers, bought the Canadian Premier League team in November.

Ricardo, the first brother to relocate to Toronto, reports his family loves Canada. His four-year-old had never seen snow before.

“He was all over the yard, playing. He loved it,” said Ricardo, who also has a seven-year-old.

York kicks off the CPL season on Saturday at Atletico Ottawa. The home opener is April 21 against local rival Forge FC.

Ricardo expects “goosebumps” and a lot of family and friends to be on hand.

“Literally I have dreams about that,” he said with enthusiasm.

Ricardo’s brothers, who have older kids in school, have been coming and going to Canada. Eduardo is set to arrive for good with his family in August with Miguel, the oldest, planning to follow later.

Eduardo is York’s CEO while Miguel is chief commercial officer and head of new strategy alliances.

York has kept Ricardo busy, from football matters to chores like getting a driver’s licence and proper ID.

“If I come to the office and have 100 things to work on, I leave the office with 200 things to work on,” Ricardo said with a smile. “But that’s the job “¦ We knew what we are getting into. We are encouraged every day.”

It helps that Ricardo’s wife spent time in Toronto as a teenager and loved it.

The brothers come from a football family.

Ricardo’s late grandfather (and godfather), on his mother’s side, played for Club America and Necaxa – and later became president and owner of Necaxa.

“It was because of him I fell in love with the game,” said Ricardo, who recalls watching games as a boy with his grandfather at storied Estadio Azteca in Mexico City.

“Just seeing his passion “¦ was an amazing experience,” he added.

His son, Ricardo’s uncle, later became president of Club America and GM of the Mexican national team. Another uncle was president of first Toluca then Chivas.

Ricardo’s father, Miguel Pasquel Sr., was CFO of the Mexican Football Federation before becoming general secretary.

Ricardo, who grew up supporting Chivas like his father, said the idea to buy into the CPL originated in late 2022 after watching a CPL game on television in Mexico. The brothers started researching the league and looking to secure partners.

“Honestly, there wasn’t much convincing on our part “¦ the country literally has everything needed to succeed,” he said, citing the number of Canadians who play soccer, the country’s diverse culture and the progress of the men’s national team.

“The talent is here,” he added.

The brothers, seeing the chance to get in at the ground floor of a growing venture, started talks with the CPL over a year ago. They initially inquired about an expansion franchise but shifted their focus to York at the suggestion of the league, which had taken over the team in April 2023.

The brothers own several companies in Mexico, including a digital marketing outfit. Miguel has also worked at ESPN Mexico as an NFL analyst.

While the brothers have not revealed the other members of the York ownership group, Ricardo says they are companies with extensive backgrounds in football.

The Mexican connection is already paying dividends.

York spent nine days in Mexico during the pre-season during the March FIFA international window. York lost 1-0 to Tigres UANL, which fielded some of its first-team players, and drew 0-0 with Monterrey’s under-23 side.

And the team has added Mexican talent in the form of defenders Oswaldo Leon and Orlando Botello and midfielder Josue Martinez.

Ricardo envisions fielding an all-Canadian roster down the line, with some of the players loaned to Mexican clubs in the off-season.

York will continue to play home games at York Lions Stadium this season on the campus of York University. And while Ricardo says York has been a great partner, “obviously any professional team would like down the road to have their own stadium.”

“We’re exploring every possible opportunity out there, having conversations with as many people as we can,” he added.

Ricardo has already had lunch with Helena Ruker, CEO of AFC Toronto, one of the founding franchises in the Project 8 women’s league set to start in 2025.

In the short term, the new owners are talking to York about game-day changes such as more food and drink options to improve the fan experience.

The Mexican brothers join Spain’s Atletico Madrid, whose worldwide network of clubs includes Atletico Ottawa, as foreign CPL owners.

“This is the world’s game,” said CPL commissioner Mark Noonan. “Bringing in a group like the Pasquel brothers and all of their connections opens up a great new window for us – in a lot of ways.”

With Atletico Madrid also holding a stake in Mexico’s Atletico San Luis club, the CPL has reasons to look south – from pre-season play to take advantage of the warm weather to “perhaps even meaningful tournaments to extend our season,” said Noonan.

York, under coach Martin Nash, finished fifth last season at 11-12-5, losing 1-0 to Pacific FC in the post-season play-in round.

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This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 9, 2024

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