April 27, 2021  

PepsiCo commits $1‎‎‏‏‎ million to improve access to soccer

Building on its UEFA Champions League partnership, PepsiCo is sharing the joys of the game with Black and Hispanic communities across the U.S.

Playing sports can have a huge impact on athletes’ lives — as decades’ worth of research has shown, it builds camaraderie and perseverance, and can help boost self-esteem. But participation can be costly, keeping many underserved communities out of the game. According to a new study from the Aspen Institute, youth athletes from low-income households are six times more likely to drop out of sports than those from higher-earning families.[1] Too many potential athletes are losing out because they can't afford a pair of cleats or don't have a safe place to play a match.

PepsiCo and its brands Pepsi, Gatorade and Lay’s are working to change that by creating Team of Champions, a national platform to support soccer in underserved Black and Hispanic communities. Building on its global partnership with the UEFA Champions League, the company plans to invest $1 million over a three-year period. The result will be actionable commitments on and off the field, creating transformational change for those who might not otherwise be able to participate in the sport.

Team of Champions is supported by international soccer star Javier ‘Chicharito’ Hernandez as he joins the PepsiCo athlete roster. In his first national effort partnering with Pepsi and Lay’s, he shares: “From access to safe play, gear and equipment, to coaching and role models, Team of Champions looks to remove barriers to the game that have become harder to move, particularly during the pandemic.”

To kick things off, PepsiCo has selected its Starting Eleven, the first group of local soccer leagues and non-profits to receive support. These organizations train, develop and support players in cities including Los Angeles, Chicago, New York, Detroit, Washington, D.C., Dallas and Fort Lauderdale. Through the Starting Eleven, an estimated 7,500 players will be positively impacted within the first year of Team of Champions.

Team of Champions looks to remove barriers to the game that have become harder to move, particularly during the pandemic.


One of this season’s partners is the ACCESS U Foundation, a national non-profit that educates Hispanic soccer players about collegiate athletic opportunities. PepsiCo’s donation will provide 20 student athletes with two-year memberships to ACCESS U, which includes test prep, application support and mentorship opportunities. Other Starting Eleven partners include Tudela FC LA, an all-girls soccer club in Los Angeles, and Irving Amateur Soccer League, Dallas-Fort Worth’s oldest Hispanic league.

“With Team of Champions, we’re building upon decades of experience and commitment on and off the field to equalize access to the game and bring smiles and opportunity through soccer,” says Esperanza Teasdale, VP & GM, Hispanic Business Unit, PepsiCo Beverages North America.

The initiative is an important part of PepsiCo’s Racial Equality Journey, which in 2020 saw the company pledge to invest more than $570 million over the next five years to uplift Black and Hispanic businesses and communities in the U.S., addressing issues of inequality and creating opportunity.

“We’re excited to strengthen our presence and impact in the game,” says Antonio Escalona, SVP & GM, Hispanic Business Unit, PepsiCo Foods North America. “Our ambition is to drive long-term change and address systemic barriers in these underserved communities.”

1Survey: Low-Income Kids Are 6 Times More Likely to Quit Sports Due to Costs, Aspen Institute, 2020.