Hard Rock Stadium was definitely the place to be in Miami on Saturday night.
Among the 67,000 fans in the building were many familiar faces, including pregnant tennis star Serena Williams; golfer Tiger Woods; NBA stars Carmelo Anthony, Draymond Green and DaMarcus Cousins; rapper Drake; hip-hop artist French Montana; Brazilian supermodel Adriana Lima; Brazilian pro skateboarder Leticia Bufoni; former NFL star Terrell Owens; and more than 40 Dolphins players.
The Dolphins contingent included Ryan Tannehill, Cameron Wake, Mike Pouncey, Jay Ajayi, Jarvis Landry, Kenny Stills, Laremy Tunsil, Michael Thomas and kicker Andrew Franks, who played a lot of soccer as a kid.
After the match, many of the sports starts waited outside the FC Barcelona locker room and posed for photos with Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar. Tiger, who had his children with him, was wearing a Barca jersey and Tweeted: “Thank you to Messi and Suarez for meeting my kids and their best friends. #elclasico.”
The national anthem was performed by Latin star Prince Royce, and the halftime show was by salsa singer and Grammy winner Marc Anthony, who said when he was named as the halftime entertainer that it was “extremely personal” to him because of his Miami connections and because he is a passionate soccer fan.
Fans sang along on many of his songs, and went crazy for “Vivir Mi Vida.”
The performance was particularly emotional because Anthony’s mother, Guillermina Quinones, died on Thursday. Anthony tweeted that day: “Today at 12:10 pm my families hero, our rock, our protector, inspiration and now ANGEL passed away ... Mami, I’m going to miss you so much.”
Anthony’s Magnus Media, the Miami-based entertainment company, includes Real Madrid players Sergio Ramos and Marcelo on its roster.
Eleven South Florida high school students benefitted greatly from Saturday’s El Clasico. They each received a $10,000 scholarship, courtesy of event organizer Relevent Sports, a division of Dolphin owner Stephen Ross’ RSE Ventures. In addition to the scholarship, they got two free tickets for the match.
Students had to demonstrate financial need, have a B average or higher, and submit an essay about the significance of soccer in their lives.
The winners were Cheyenne Ferrin (Flanagan High School); David Espantoso (Mater Academy); Jordano Granados (Cypress Bay High School); Sandruny Fortune (Miami Northwestern Senior High School); Giovani Marks (Booker T. Washington); Mikaela Flaherty (Miramar High School); Marvens Mertune (William H. Turner Technical Art High School); Khareem Oliver (Coral Gables Senior High School); William Fierro (Cypress Bay High School); Chyanne Dennis (American Heritage High School); and Frantz Paul (North Miami Beach Senior High School)
RAMOS ON MBAPPE
There are rumors that Monaco’s 18-year-old phenom Kylian Mbappe is headed to Real Madrid. Captain Sergio Ramos was asked about it as the pregame news conference.
“I think talking about players who are not on our roster is a waste of time,” Ramos said. “Mbappe is a great player, but we’ve been doing things very well and our squad is very good. Ultimately, money dictates football. Everyone pays what they want and what they can. These kinds of decisions don’t pass through me, but any player who’s come here has been welcomed, although discussing rumors like these is a waste of time.”
Trade rumors have been swirling around FC Barcelona camp, as reports all over Europe say that Brazilian star forward Neymar is heading to Paris Saint-Germain, and that the French team is willing to pay an unprecedented $250 million fee to release Neymar from his contract with the Spanish club.
Neymar hasn’t let on about his plans, but social media picked up on the fact that he ate dinner on Friday night at Paris 6, a Miami Beach restaurant owned by Brazilians. The restaurant also has locations in Brazilian cities Sao Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Belo Horizonte and Porto Allegre.
The Real Madrid and FC Barcelona players are leaving Miami on Sunday, but several of the star players’ images will remain hanging on the walls of the Brickell City Centre. Giant botanical portraits made of moss were unveiled on Friday, and will stay there for fans to enjoy until Labor Day weekend.
“We are so grateful to the International Champions Cup, Relevent Sports and Swire Properties for making this unprecedented exhibit possible. We have been looking for the right moment to showcase Paloma Teppa and Andrew Antonaccio’s collaboration in human portraits and are thrilled do so as part of the art initiative surrounding this historic match,” said Yair Marcoschamer, co-founder and Chief Executive Gardener of Plant the Future. “We are hopeful that our moss interpretations of these soccer idols mesmerize the fans almost as much as these players’ amazing feats on the field.”