The Pan-Pacific Championships are a soccer event which we can expect to grow in importance over the next few years, this event coupled with the World Baseball Classic Finals (which will be held in Los Angeles a month later), could represent a pair of young international sporting events that will only grow in importance as time goes on and one day earn its proper place in the calendar of global sports fans.
Indeed, the 2009 Pan-Pacific Championships are a perfect fit for a city like Los Angeles with its large multicultural background and the fact that LA is probably the biggest market for soccer in the United States. Even the hip logo speaks to the stylish and future thinking nature of Angelenos.
Los Angeles is after all the premier Futbol/Soccer town in the US, home to Interliga (Cope de Libredores playoffs), two MLS teams, and a must stop both for top-level European sides touring the US( like FC Barcelona and Chelsea) and national teams (like Mexico and Brazil) which have played exhibitions in the California in the past decade.
The 2009 Pan-Pacific Championships bring together the Japanese, Korean, and Chinese domestic league champions and the Los Angeles Galaxy, who will serve as hosts. Los Angeles is home to large numbers of immigrants from all over Asia. In the past Korean football fans have shown up to support their touring teams, and we can expect the same this time.
Even Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Chan Ho Park was known to show up at Home Depot Center to support his Korean countrymen. Thus, the Suwon Blue Wings, the most accomplished of the invitees, are likely to be a big draw for fans of Asian sports.
The tournament is the property of Soccer United Marketing (SUM). This entity has aggressively marketed soccer along the West Coast with events in Los Angeles, San Diego, the Bay Area, and Seattle. An exhibition between Mexico and China in Seattle drew 60,000 fans to Qwest Field. Clearly, the Pan-Pacific Championship could be a great fit for Seattle, the Bay Area, or San Diego in the near future.
In the future it would be nice to see the OFC Champions League Winner, or at the very least the A-League Winner, participate like they did in 2008. Why not let Australia host an edition of the tournament in the near future as they have requested?
C.F. Pachuca had originally been tapped to participate in the 2008 edition as the SuperLiga Champions, but Pachuca balked at participating. In the future, steps should be taken to assure that a Mexican team and perhaps even an invitee from a South American nation be added to the tournament to ensure some regional flair.
The West Coast, Mexico, Australia? Plenty of room to expand indeed.
Joe Nixon covers area sports for the Playerpress.com
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