The investment and vision of Traffic Sports have helped propel Portuguese club Estoril unexpectedly into the UEFA Europa League where they will compete next season.
The U.S. arm of Traffic’s international soccer business has championed the success of the North American Soccer League and in particular the Fort Lauderdale Strikers, Atlanta Silverbacks and Carolina RailHawks. And in Portugal, Traffic Sports has taken Estoril from relative obscurity to the Portuguese Primeira Liga and now to European club competition qualification.
Estoril’s season ending 3-1 win away to Gil Vicente secured the all-important fifth place finish to claim Portugal’s final Europa League spot. And they also earned local bragging rights having finished ahead of Sporting, their illustrious rivals from their home city of Lisbon.
“We assumed control and the operation of the team three years ago and took them from the second to the first division this year,” explained Traffic President Aaron Davidson. “The team has won a lot of admirers for how they have performed this season and some of the biggest clubs around the world are taking an interest in the players who have taken the club to such great heights.
“We shocked everyone earlier this month by tying undefeated Benfica at home which was a blow to their championship hopes.”
Benfica, who lost the Europa League final to England’s Chelsea and trailed Porto by a point at the top, lost control of their own destiny in the race for the Primeira Liga title and eventually lost the championship by a point to Porto.
Under Traffic’s control, Grupo Desportivo Estoril Praia – to give the club its full title - won promotion after the 2011/12 season after winning the Liga de Honra by a five-point margin, led by manager Marco Silva and Brazilian goalkeeper and captain Wagner.
The rise to Portugal’s top division under the guidance of Traffic marks the first time since 2005 that Estoril has spent a season in the top flight and only the second time in 20 years.
And now the Europa League and even greater heights beckon.
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