Wednesday, May 1, 2024
Kyle Krause on the field with coaching staff

In September of 2020, Krause Group founder and CEO Kyle Krause (BBA85) purchased a 90% stake in Parma Calcio 1913, adding to the growing list of North American-owned top tier soccer clubs in Europe. And it’s no wonder. With World Cup champion Messi coming to play for Miami and shows like Ted Lasso, the sport has caught on in a big way in the United States. Read on to learn about how this Tippie alum has broken into “the beautiful game.”


Why Parma Calcio?

It all started with a bit of investigation into Italian soccer and evolved into this fantastic opportunity. Some of the research was initiated because of work I was doing related to Pro Iowa (which aims to build a soccer stadium and global plaza in Des Moines). I was exploring clubs and ownership structures, trying to better understand opportunities and the process. But networking in Italy for Pro Iowa knowledge led to me developing more intentional interest in purchasing a club in Italy.

When I discovered Parma Calcio was for sale, I knew it was the right choice. The club has an incredible brand and history and celebrated its 110-year anniversary in December. Parma Calcio is the fourth most successful Italian team in UEFA competitions having won four national trophies and four international trophies. In addition, Parma is a beautiful city with rich history, cuisine, culture, and soccer. 

What’s not to love?


Parma Calcio 1913 logo

Why a soccer club?

I’m incredibly passionate about the sport. My initial love for the game grew from watching my own children play. I was the proud dad, happy to serve as a mentor and coach. I’ve owned our two-time national championship team, the Des Moines Menace, since 1998 and was inducted into the United Soccer League (USL)’s Hall of Fame in 2011 for contributions made to the sport. I also played locally.

Soccer club ownership offers us an incredible opportunity to greatly impact communities like Parma and Des Moines, while building and growing a successful and multi-generational business. 

At Krause Group, we believe doing good is good for business and work to enhance the way people experience the world through our family of brands. We balance purpose and profit by focusing on important issues like advancing gender equality—empowering women and girls, as well as reducing inequalities that threaten social and economic development.  

This focus on “doing good” also allows us to create an engaged and loyal fan base, drive local tourism and a sense of community, and to attract and retain talent and organizational sponsors that align with our parent company’s purpose and mission.


How involved are you in the day-to-day?

As owner and president, I’m there to be supportive to the club. I’m accessible and involved in strategic club projects and initiatives but don’t run the day-to-day operations. I have a talented leadership team that I trust and rely on to run the business. 


Was there a particular match that you watched that convinced you that soccer was awesome? 

Like many of us, it didn’t take much to convince me that soccer was awesome. But it was really watching kids play “the beautiful game” and seeing the joy on their faces. To witness them running around in the grass having fun, making mistakes, and then succeeding and learning teamwork with their friends.  


Parma celebrating a win


Do you watch every Parma match? How often do you get to Italy to see them play in person?

I watch all men’s and women’s matches regardless of where I am. I love the energy and experience of being in the stadium and also travel to away matches to support the teams. Because Krause Group has several businesses in the country, I'm in Italy on a regular basis meeting with executive leadership, coaching staff, players, associates, and community leaders. I do my best to coordinate schedules so that I can attend as many matches as possible. 


How's your Italian?

I have ancestors from Italy and have dual citizenship, so I’ve always embraced everything Italian. I love the language, culture, and people of Italy. I don’t speak it as well as I’d like to, but work on it daily and am proud to share that recently, I’ve been able to give a few short speeches in Italian!


Did you know calcio means soccer in Italian?


Matches get tense! Do you ever have to look away? Or do you have the stomach for it?

I’m a passionate yet calm supporter—but soccer is a painful and difficult business to be in. It is intense and can be very emotional with all the highs and lows that can happen, sometimes all in one weekend.


Speaking of highs and lows—soccer, like business, often has ups and downs. What’s your advice to other business owners on how to weather the storms?

I encourage other business owners to define and follow their long-term vision, avoiding shortsighted decisions that get in the way of future growth and success.


What other clubs do you look up to for the way they run their club and/or business? 

As I’ve shared, we want to be a top, Serie A team and are committed to investing in and developing young players. The Italian soccer club Atalanta has built itself into the top eight in Serie A by investing and growing in youth development. In addition, Beyer Leverkusen is really focused on developing young players and is well positioned to win Serie A in Germany this year. 

I’m also interested in growing and advocating for equity in sport. We see Parma Calcio becoming a top team in Europe, competing at the top of Serie A in the women’s game. Olympique Lyonnais is a great example of a women’s team out of France that is currently ranked second in the world.

Finally, we’re focused on innovation using analytics. Two clubs in England (Brighton and Brentford) are outperforming others and have risen from lower leagues to premier league based largely on their knowledge and use of analytics for scouting and performance. 


Pyramid graphic showing the levels of Italian soccer.


How are you using analytics at the club?

Performance and analytics are embedded into our decision-making, and I believe are key to unlocking success in soccer. Mathieu Lacome, who came to us from Paris Saint-Germain in 2021, serves as our chief performance and analytics officer and oversees a staff of more than 30 associates who cover game analysis, data analytics, and performance.

Player from Parma's women's team making a steal.

We use it for a few reasons, the first being player and coach recruitment. Using data to optimize style of play before recruiting staff and players helps to ensure we have alignment with our system. The data can also highlight players that scouts might not have thought about. Secondarily, we use analytics to develop and grow youth talent, ensuring they can be ready to perform and play in Serie A in future years. And finally, we use analytics to track and report on talent development, reviewing player progress and developing action plans and training for them—from mental health and nutrition support to injury prehab and prevention guidance.

I share this passion for analytics with my son, Oliver, who is pursuing a career in this area. An associate of Krause Group Soccer, he previously worked in analytics for Parma Calcio and recently received a FIFA diploma in club management. He also earned a business analytics certificate from Harvard.


Is there a great player on Parma that your fellow Tippie alums should be cheering for?

I encourage readers to cheer for all our players! I don’t have favorites but want to specifically call out our captains of the men’s and women’s first teams—Enrico Delprato and Caterina Ambrosi—that do a great job leading each of the teams both on and off the field.


Men's captain Enrico Delprato celebrating a goal


What player in history would you sign if you could?

I’d say Megan Rapinoe. She is an international soccer icon and stands for social justice and activism, advocating for things like equal pay structures for male and female athletes, LGBTQ initiatives, and treating all with dignity and respect.


Actors Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney purchased Wrexham A.F.C. a couple months after you purchased Parma Calcio. In the documentary Welcome to Wrexham, Reynolds says, “I’ve only been owner of a football club for a short time, but so far I’ve found it to be very time consuming, emotionally exhausting, financially idiotic, and utterly addictive.”  Do you identify with that?

Ha, 100 percent. Well said. I like what they’re doing. It’s great to see more and more people take notice of their investment and engage with soccer in the United States.


A sea of Parma fans at Tardini stadium.


What’s the hardest decision you’ve had to make as majority owner?

It’s a challenge to make sure I appoint the right leaders both on and off the field. But I don’t make shortsighted decisions based on a weekend loss. I’m committed to the long-term, multi-generational success of the organization, balancing purpose and profit while strengthening our commitment to diversity, inclusion, and equity in sport and reducing inequalities or barriers to access. Leadership must perform for the business, but they must also be aligned with our Krause Group vision and values.


You’ve referred to this as a “multi-generational investment.” How do you see Parma growing in the next 50 years?

I see our men and women being in the top of the Serie A league every year moving forward. It will require appropriate investments in training centers, analytics, and dedicated resources to drive equity. 

We also have ambitious plans to give the city of Parma a more modern and multi-functional stadium that can be used by all.

Other modernization projects include a training center in Collecchio where our first teams (men and women) and youth train. In addition, this January we unveiled our new women’s hub in Noceto complete with a gym, medical room, press room, offices, and synthetic field—all designed with their unique needs in mind to support the best performance possible for these athletes. It seems obvious, but this includes thinking about things like specific equipment needs and offering centralized spaces for staff and medical support to access and meet with players outside of designated changing areas.


Rendering of the proposed stadium in Parma.


What’s the best part of owning a soccer club?

There are so many things I love about both Italy and soccer. Ownership of this club is a dream I’ve made a reality, but my favorite thing is using soccer as an avenue to do good and to create enhanced experiences for others. We have such a great opportunity to continue to grow and build this club while being purpose-led and making a positive impact where equity, sustainability, and prosperity are realities for all. 


The Parma women's team celebrating a goal.


You’ve been involved with trying to bring USL to Des Moines. What have you learned at Parma that you could apply in Iowa?

We’ve seen “the good” that having a team in Parma has done for the community. Experiencing these benefits firsthand makes us all that more passionate about bringing men’s and women’s professional soccer to Iowa. Like Parma Calcio, the Pro Iowa Stadium (and global plaza) would offer unique opportunities to bring diverse groups of people together around the world’s game while celebrating and embracing Des Moines’ heritage and international community. 

In addition, the placemaking project, which would spur community activity and economic development, would also promote a strong and viable downtown for people to live, work, and play! This is seen around Tardini stadium, which sits at the core of the city of Parma.


At this point, Krause Group owns a soccer club, vineyards, and hotels in Italy, amongst other holdings. Anything else on your bucket list of investments?

Outline of a map of Italy with a dot for Parma in the central north.

Krause Group has inbounds all the time but we take a strategic approach, looking at long-term investment opportunities that align with our purpose and mission. Future purchases will most likely align with our existing verticals—soccer, wine, real estate, and hospitality. 

Regarding our soccer vertical, we’re looking to expand and advance our Krause Group Soccer strategy in ways that offer support and contribute to the success of Parma Calcio. Pro Iowa is an important part of this effort, and we continue to work on finalizing the capital stack in partnership with private donors and public officials. We’re also focused on the “here and now” projects including promotion to Serie A for men and women, a new stadium, training center design and development, and bringing equity to sport.

Additional acquisitions will happen over time and at the right time. We will continue to be strategic and intentional and jump on great opportunities as we have in the past with our wineries Enrico Serafino and Vietti, the opening of our 5-star resort Casa di Langa, and our purchase of Parma Calcio.

We’re also considering social investing opportunities in communities where we operate businesses. In other words, putting our money to work in ways that enhance community enrichment through small business support for women and underrepresented groups. 


Congratulations on promotion!

Thanks! On May 1, 2024 the Parma men clinched promotion and reclaimed our place in Serie A. This is a victory for all of us—our players, coaching staff, associates, incredible fans, and the entire community of Parma. The city is celebrating and there are more celebrations to come. There has been an immense amount of energy and enthusiasm leading up to this, and we are grateful for the ongoing support as we approach next season.

Kyle Krause gets hoisted up by Parma Calcio players after promotion to Serie A on May 1, 2024.


An abbreviated version of this article appeared in the 2024 issue of Exchange magazine

Images courtesy of Parma Calcio 1913 and the Williams McBride Group.