A European-style knockout tournament is coming to America this summer. Three of the eight clubs involved have already been announced, and their identities should create plenty of excitement.
Sports Illustrated's Grant Wahl broke the story Monday:
The new tournament, which is being called the International Champions Cup, will take place all around the U.S., with the final at Miami's Sun Life Stadium. There will be two groups of four—Eastern and Western groups. The tournament, which has a major title sponsor and a TV deal, will be officially announced on Tuesday in Miami, with figures from several of the participating clubs on hand.
ESPN FC reports that the tournament is set to begin July 27 with a group match in Europe. Phoenix, San Francisco and Indianapolis will reportedly host group matches, with semifinals set for New York and Los Angeles on Aug. 3-4. The report also notes that the tournament already has a title sponsor and that television coverage is planned for 151 countries.
If you're an American and a fan of the beautiful game, this should be great news. It's hard not to be excited by what's going on here. As Wahl notes, the ICC is taking over the mantle of the World Football Challenge, which for years gave fans only one-off exhibitions. The ICC will instead offer group and knockout stages.
What's more, the ICC is intended to become an annual event. If top teams keep making the trip to the U.S. each summer, the game is bound to keep growing stateside.
With Real Madrid taking part, American fans will have another chance to see Cristiano Ronaldo, who is perhaps the most marketable player in the world. Real Madrid also played in the U.S. last summer. Juventus currently lead Serie A and could enter the tournament as back-to-back Italian champions.
The official announcement, which was originally scheduled for Tuesday, has been pushed back to later this week (per Wahl's Twitter account):
International Champions Cup announcement set for today will now take place later this week.— Grant Wahl (@GrantWahl) April 16, 2013
The official announcement and the coming weeks should fill in some of the gaps, including the identities of the other five teams in the tournament. Until then, we can only speculate about which clubs will fill out the field.
Which clubs are you hoping will take part?