Soccer

Blitz begins to hype Guinness International Champions Cup at Sun Life Stadium

 

Ticket sales have been strong for the inaugural Guinness International Champions Cup at Sun Life Stadium.

 
Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo from Portugal celebrates after scoring during a Spanish La Liga soccer match against Malaga's at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium, in Madrid, on Wednesday, May 8, 2013.
Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo from Portugal celebrates after scoring during a Spanish La Liga soccer match against Malaga's at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium, in Madrid, on Wednesday, May 8, 2013.
Daniel Ochoa de Olza / AP

mkaufman@MiamiHerald.com

If South Florida sports fans didn’t realize a mega soccer tournament is headed to Sun Life Stadium on Aug. 6-7, they will very soon.

Organizers of the inaugural Guinness International Champions Cup — an eight-team tournament featuring some of Europe’s most famous clubs — are about to saturate the market with an advertising blitz ranging from living billboards to helicopters trailing soccer-field-length banners.

Real Madrid, Chelsea, AC Milan, Inter Milan, Valencia, Everton, Juventus and the Los Angeles Galaxy will compete in a 12-day tournament across the United States that culminates with the championship rounds in Miami.

All eight teams will play in a pair of doubleheaders at Sun Life Stadium. Sellout crowds of 70,000 are expected both nights, and ticket sales have been strong so far, according to organizers.

Among the biggest names fans on the tournament rosters: Cristiano Ronaldo, Fernando Torres, John Terry, Frank Lampard, Mesut Ozil, Kaka, Karim Benzema, Tim Howard, Landon Donovan, Javier Zanetti and Carlos Tevez, the Argentine star who will be playing his first matches for new club Juventus in the famed No. 10 shirt worn by legend Alessandro Del Piero. Spanish forward Fernando Llorente will also be making his debut for Juventus during the ICC.

Real Madrid fans will see new manager Carlo Ancelotti, who took over for departed Jose Mourinho. They’ll also get their first glimpse of recently signed midfielder Isco Alarcon, who wowed scouts at the European Under-21 championship in Israel last month.

The tournament is being broadcast in 151 countries, and Fox Soccer will televise 11 of the 12 matches live, including the Aug. 7 championship game in Miami.

Between the eight clubs, they have won 120 league titles and 20 Champions League trophies. Their combined rosters include 35 of the Top 100 players in the world (rated by England’s The Guardian newspaper), six of the world’s Top 20 Highest-Paid soccer players, and 12 players who have won a World Cup.

Real Madrid star Ronaldo already has begun tweeting about it to his 19.6 million followers. He recently wrote: “Looking forward to being back in South Florida this August for @intcham pionscup #ICC2013.’’

“Starting next week, you won’t be able to go anywhere in Miami without running into some type of promotion for the ICC,” said Matt Higgins, CEO of RSE Ventures, the sports and entertainment company of Dolphins owner Stephen Ross. “We want people to realize this is not just a bunch of friendlies. This is a real preseason tournament with eight of the most famous teams in the world, and they will all be here, in Miami, at the same time. We want this to be the capital of international soccer for those two days and create a brand for years to come.”

In addition to the soccer matches, there will be concerts, a food festival, interactive games and autograph sessions with soccer legends. Former French World Cup and Real Madrid star Zinedine Zidane is expected to be here, as well as former AC Milan captain Paolo Maldini, who has a home in Miami Beach.

“People in Miami love to see stars, and that’s what they’re getting with this event,’’ said Charlie Stillitano, CEO of Relevant Sports, the soccer arm of RSE Ventures. “We’re getting lots of attention overseas, too, from fans in England, Italy, Japan and Real Madrid fans in South America. Most fans in South America will never be this close to seeing the top European teams.”

Fans from Argentina are particularly interested in seeing Tevez, who transferred last month from Manchester City in the English Premier League to Italian giant Juventus. Inter Milan recently signed four Argentine players who will make their debuts in the ICC — Juan Pablo Carrizo, Ruben Botta, Mauro Icardi and Hugo Campagnaro.

Like Real Madrid, Everton has a new manager on the sideline — Spaniard Roberto Martinez. Among his newest signings are Arouna Kone of the Ivory Coast and Antolin Alcarez of Paraguay.

“Part of the fun of this event for diehard fans will be seeing players and managers with new teams,’’ Stillitano said. “There are lots of storylines to follow, and these new players want to make a good early impression, so they’ll be playing hard, even though it’s preseason.”

Ticket packages for the two-night Sun Life Stadium matches start at $80 ($20 per match) and are available through Ticketmaster and www.internationalcham pionscup.com

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