The NZ team boss is looking for a place outside New Zealand to host the next Copa America Cup if the team wins this year. Photo / Brett Phibbs
The New Zealand team is seeking advice on the commercial landscape for the next Cup of America as speculation swirls that the competition is “shopping” to venues abroad.
A well-placed source told the Herald on Sunday that they understand Italian billionaire and businessman Matteo de Nora – principal and longtime supporter of Team NZ – has been involved in considering potential venues outside the country for his next event.
Qatar is considered an option while other possible locations include elsewhere in the Middle East, parts of Europe, and Singapore and China.
“This is disloyal,” said the source. “I think most New Zealanders will be disappointed. They were expected to support New Zealand to win only to find out that the whole country can be bullied because of them. [Team NZ] can raise money from other places, “he said.
Successive governments have previously helped fund Team NZ campaigns, based in part on the potential tourism gains that New Zealand’s defense generates.
De Nora could not be reached for comment. In a statement for written inquiries from the Herald on Sunday, Emirates New Zealand Team CEO Grant Dalton said: “As a team, the Emirates NZ Team has only been around and is growing to bring the Copa America back to New Zealand as hosts.
“Because of Covid-19, the world is clearly a different place to be after the last American Cup in terms of staging major sporting events as well as the entire market for commercial sponsorship.
“So as current defenders of the Copa America, the Emirates NZ Team has engaged an agency to research and assess the wider commercial environment globally and domestically to provide a picture of the future for the event and the team following the completion of this 36th edition.
“Of course, our total focus right now is on defending the 36th Copa America against what will ultimately be formidable opponents. And any level of assumptions about the next level is premature considering we haven’t won this event yet.”
Those opponents – either Prada Luna Rossa or England’s Ineos Team – will face the Kiwi side next month for the Copa America.
A spokesman for the Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment said they were not aware of any discussions between Team NZ and elsewhere.
Tom Ehman, former Deputy Commodore of the Golden Gate Cruises club, and CEO of the Sailing Illustration website, said he had been hearing rumors for months that the next trophy event was “shopping.”
“This is not a secret, this has been talked about in the screen community for several months and I put it on my show and nobody refuses, in fact, more people confirm. I know about Qatar, Dubai, Bahrain and Malta, and Spain.
“Shopping abroad is ridiculous and absurd. I don’t believe your government and the business community in Auckland will allow this to happen.”
The seasoned international sailor who has been involved with the Copa America since 1980 said it was not Team NZ’s job to “shop”.
“It’s up to the Royal New Zealand Cruises Squadron (RNZYS), they are the supervisor, not the team. It’s not up to the Emirates NZ Team, it’s not up to Mr Dalton, who I have known for years and I really respect,” said Ehman.
“I don’t believe they are serious about using this as a bargaining chip because the RNZYS are trustees and defenders – it’s up to them to choose a venue.”
Apart from two exceptions, the Cup has always sailed in defender country.
In 2007, the Copa America was held in Valencia because Switzerland was landless. Ten years later, the Oracle American team held an event in Bermuda.
Ehman resigned as Deputy Commodore of the Golden Gate Cruises Club in San Francisco based on the decision.
“When Larry (Ellison) and Russell (Coutts) started shopping and going overseas to Bermuda, they got financial support but not local support. So I stopped.
“We are an American club and we have to keep it in our country. When they said ‘no, the club will buy it in Bermuda’, I said ‘count me out’ and resigned,” Ehman said.
New Zealand Cruise Ship Squadron Commodore, Aaron Young, said he was also aware of rumors about overseas venues for the next Cup.
Young said it was “normal” that venues were touted to host the next Copa America, but stressed it was important to defend it first.
“The first and only objective at this stage is to win the Copa America because unless you do it, everything [else] a little irrelevant. “
Young initially told the Herald on Sunday that the RNZYS would ultimately decide where the next Copa America will take place, but later clarified in a statement that Team NZ would also be involved.
“Any decisions surrounding future American Cup events or regattas will obviously be taken in collaboration between ETNZ and RNZYS,” he said.
Young’s personal preference is to sail anyway in the Cup-winning country and said it was in the host’s venue agreement that Team NZ have an “exclusive negotiation” period in New Zealand.
The leading sailing expert Magnus Wheatley recently estimated that the ship sails The next cup will be held in the Middle East.
“With Covid still around, and costs under the government’s watchful eye, a decision will be made to place the next venue for tenders and will attract a big cash bid from Dubai-backed Abu Dhabi,” said the British cruise writer.
“The Cup will go to the Middle East in 2025. Money doesn’t speak, he screams.”
Both Wheatley and Ehman supported Team NZ to win the Auld Mug.
“The odds are Team NZ are the favorites – they get what appears to be the best ship, the youngest, strongest, best sailing team,” said Ehman.
“Every time a defender wins it brings him back to home advantage, they set the rules and have all the home support – I suspect it’s for all the reasons that ETNZ will win.”