European soccer giants Real Madrid, Inter Milan and Juventus are among the eight teams that will play in the inaugural Guinness International Champions Cup this summer, a one-week tournament across the United States that will culminate with all eight teams at Sun Life Stadium on Aug. 6-7 for the final two rounds.
The Los Angeles Galaxy will represent Major League Soccer in the event which is being put together by Relevant Sports, the soccer division of Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross RSE Ventures. Contract negotiations are underway with the four other teams, which will be announced in the next two weeks. One or two teams from the English Premier League are expected, and possibly AC Milan.
The event will be a 12-day bracketed tournament that opens in Europe on July 27 and then will move to the United States for seven days of competition. First-round matches will be in Phoenix, San Francisco and Indianapolis. The semifinals would be in New York and Los Angeles on Aug. 3 and 4. All eight teams travel to Miami to compete in the seventh-place, fifth-place, third-place and championship matches.
Fox Soccer will televise 11 of the matches live, including the final from Miami Gardens on Aug. 7 at 9 p.m. Fox signed a three-year deal with the event.
Emilio Butragueno, director of Real Madrid, said the tournament is a perfect preseason test for his team and also a chance to grow the brand in the United States.
We want to strengthen our bond with American fans, he said Tuesday at a news briefing in Miami Beach. Many people here watch our games on TV every weekend, and our players are very familiar to those fans. This will give them a chance to watch us live, to see players like Cristiano Ronaldo and [Iker] Casillas in person.
Butragueno recalled watching the Boston Celtics when they traveled to Madrid to play the Real Madrid basketball team in the 1980s. It was something unbelievable to see in person the stars I had been only watching on TV, he said. This is what we want to give the soccer fans of the United States.
Marco Fassone, director of Inter Milan, said his Italian club is also looking forward to a summer tournament in the U.S. Many Italian players vacation in Miami, and own beachfront condos here. They like that the dinner hour is late, and the cafes and the nightlife. He said the timing of the event, just before the start of the Serie A season, is a perfect tuneup.
It will be very challenging to play teams the caliber of Real Madrid, Juventus, L.A. Galaxy and the other teams they are talking to, he said. I expect good matches, not friendlies. It is also a chance to increase our brand here. We have two targets, Asia and the United States. Nike is our sponsor, and they want us to develop our brand here.
Ticket prices will be announced in a few weeks and will go on sale in May.