The Philadelphia Union of Major League Soccer has mooted stakes in a possible purchase of Danish club Aalborg BK.

Sources close to the matter informed Bloomberg that the US club is among many possible supporters of a deal being arranged by SSE22. It is a Hamburg-based firm run by Thomas Hitzlsperger, a former German player.

SSE22 now has a 22% percent share in Aalborg BK, which they said in March would be increased to 50.5%. A representative from the Philadelphia Union said this deal expands the international options for the MLS club.

“We are always evaluating international opportunities and possible partnerships to expand our sporting bandwidth and expertise.”

Real estate magnate Jay Sugarman owns the American team; nonetheless, SSE22’s spokesperson chose not to comment.

Philadelphia Union begins multi-club model with Aalborg

Investments from Major League Soccer clubs into other clubs from across the globe have been uncommon. By contrast, the proliferation of American owners throughout European soccer is rampant. Instead, the so-called multi-club model has often revolved around a flagship club like Manchester City.

However, Philadelphia’s investment in Aalborg is not the first time an MLS club has linked with clubs from Europe. As part of its strategy to expand internationally, LAFC took majority ownership in the Swiss club Grasshopper Club Zurich.

Aalborg BK started in 1885 by English railroad workers stationed in Denmark. The team is in the city of the same name and has won four national titles. It is nearing promotion back into the top flight after suffering relegation last season.

To invest in and contribute to the development of Aalborg, Hitzlsperger and five other Germans established SSE22. Aalborg will get $6.6 million from the new share issuance, as previously stated.

Who is Thomas Hitzlsperger and how can he benefit Philadelphia?

It is becoming more common for former soccer players to go into senior leadership roles. But as former players go, Thomas Hitzlsperger is in a league of his own.

He earned 52 caps for Germany while playing in the Bundesliga, the Premier League, and Serie A. In subsequent years, he began an advocacy career for inclusivity in soccer and is now an investor in the Danish club Aalborg.

Naturally, Hitzlsperger is among the most well-known male players to come out as gay; he did so more than ten years ago. After a year of restricted playing time due to injuries, he retired from a career that had included clubs such as Everton, West Ham, Lazio, Stuttgart, and Aston Villa.

It took him two years after making his major statement to begin his path into football leadership. He worked as a commentator before Stuttgart’s relegation, and the club appointed him as an adviser.

As CEO of Stuttgart from October 2019 until April 2022, Hitzlsperger refined his managerial and leadership abilities. More than just his own story, the 42-year-old has been an integral part of campaigns to increase representation of underrepresented groups in soccer. That’s why he was able to assist in cultivating an inclusive atmosphere and guide the growth of fresh talent.

Additionally, Hitzlsperger has been an outspoken supporter of LGBTQ+ rights in sports. He is an outspoken advocate for LGBTQ+ inclusion in sports and other efforts, such as the Rainbow Laces campaign, which seeks to level the playing field for those in the LGBTQ+ community.