Uruguay National Football Squad
Sports travel is a very specialist category that requires constant management and experienced operatives to deliver the often demanding and last-minute travel programmes. None more so than arranging the travel management and safe passage of an international football team and non-playing staff from one side of the world to the other.
With a week’s notice, we were tasked with the logistics of ensuring that all 43 members of the Uruguayan Football squad and staff made it to Seoul and Tokyo for the arranged international friendlies with South Korea and Japan. This opportunity came from our relationship with a Match Agent at Soccerex, the network and events operator for domestic and international football associations.
Such is the complex world of sports travel, very few of the travelling party were in the same location. In fact, not one of the Uruguayan national team represented a domestic club within Uruguay, this meant the squad of 23 were all dotted across the globe in North, Central and South America and Europe . Our teams had to work quickly to figure out the most efficient way to get the players from their current locations to the hosting nations.
Our responsibilities were challenged further when 4 members of the Uruguayan based coaching staff could not acquire an ESTA. At the time, the best routing to South East Asia from Uruguay was via Miami – Without ESTAs the full coaching staff could not travel on this route. Therefore, our teams had to figure out a more creative route without impacting the agreed upon budget and costing the client more.
Furthermore, the client required Business Class for all travellers. As Miami was no longer an option, flying business class added an additional 21 hours onto their flight time. This was presented to the client so that they could make the decision to fly economy plus for a shorter time or Business Class for a longer period of time. We employed a 5-phase process that would enable us to conduct this multifaceted client request:
How we delivered:
Overview of the brief Routing the travel for all 43 individuals across their multiple locations Timings as some player had to be back with their clubs earlier than others Budgeting and cost-saving opportunities.
Checking flight availability, dates for players and staff and holding flights.
Booking flights once all 43 individuals have confirmed times and dates suit them.
Changing unavoidable last-minute cancellations e.g. injuries – subsequently booking the flights for a replacement player.
Managing the changes and requests whilst the players and staff are in South Korea / Japan. This included meeting the requests of players’ clubs that some return earlier for training.
From the moment the players and staff leave for the airport, our Account Manager was on call, on a 24/7 basis, for the client for any issues / last minute changes. This exposure to our representative came into its own when a player became injured during the first friendly, as such their club wanted them back so that they could assess the extent of and treat the injury. The Account Manager was contacted late at night but was available and booked a flight that was departing the next day. Transporting a squad and staff of 43 from one location can have its challenges, but to deliver a project with multiple ‘to and from’ locations is where our team of specialist sports travel bookers come into their own. Despite the complexity, size (project budget of £500k) and plethora of last-minute changes we exceeded the expectations of the Match Agent and the football associations involved.