Four of the biggest and most star-packed teams will tour the United States later this year. This summer, four of the best soccer teams in the world - Chelsea, AC Milan, Inter Milan and Club America - will compete in the United States in the inaugural World Football Challenge, a six-city round robin tournament.
Beginning on July 19 and concluding on July 26, the four teams will face off at some of the most recognized stadiums across the U.S., including the Rose Bowl (Pasadena, Calif.), the Georgia Dome (Atlanta, Ga.), MT&T Bank Stadium (Baltimore, Md.), Gillette Stadium (Foxborough, Mass.), Stanford Stadium (Palo Alto, Calif.) and the new Cowboys Stadium (Arlington, Texas). Match tickets go on sale today at worldfootballchallenge.com.
The World Football Challenge will give soccer fans the unprecedented opportunity to see global superstars such as John Terry, Frank Lampard, Michael Ballack, Ronaldinho, Kaká, Julio Cesar, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Andrea Pirlo, Pavel Pardo, Guillermo Ochoa and Adriano play live in the U.S. and experience first-hand the fast-paced, skillful competition that has made soccer the most popular sport in the world.
"We are delighted to be in the United States again for pre-season," said Peter Kenyon, Chelsea FC chief executive. "This is our fifth pre-season out of six that we have toured here and it is always a pleasure to see our fans and train and play in excellent facilities in great cities. Chelsea, of course, will bring a full-strength first team squad and with the quality of the opposition, and the backing of our partners, this series of matches will be the best preparation and the most high profile we have played in America."
Kenyon was joined by AC Milan Director Umberto Gandini, Club America President Michel Bauer, and FC Internazionale Milano Technical Director Marco Branca along with CAA Sports Co-head Michael Levine and ESPN Programming Vice President Scott Guglielmino at a press conference at the ESPN Zone in New York to announce the 2009 World Football Challenge and match schedule.
"I am very happy to take AC Milan back to the United States after a few years, thanks to our friends at CAA, in a tournament which will see us visiting Atlanta and Baltimore before going back to Boston where we played already," said Umberto Gandini, AC Milan Organizing Director. "AC Milan will meet very important teams like Club America, Chelsea, with whom we played on U.S. soil twice, and Internazionale, our city rivals. After 40 years there will be another derby in the States, the last and only so far was in New York. These are going to be three important matches very useful in order to prepare the new season at the best. I am confident that these events will offer great football to all the fans throughout America."
"As President of Club America I am delighted to participate in the World Football Challenge," said Michel Bauer, Club America president. "I know our fans in the U.S. and Mexico will enjoy such an exciting competition and watching our eagles play against these elite European clubs. With so much talent on the pitch, it's going to be a competitive tournament and I'm looking forward to getting it started."
Marco Branca, FC Internazionale Milano technical director added, "We are very proud to take part in an important event like this. The international spirit is the historic core of our club. The fixtures in the United States are going to be important steps for the preparation of the following season and will give us the possibility to meet our fans in America. This is the first time we have played in America in 40 years and we are confident our supporters will cheer for our squad of big champions."
CAA Sports, a division of Creative Artists Agency, the leading entertainment and sports agency, is the event management agency and organizers of the World Football Challenge.
"Considering this country's ever-growing enthusiasm for soccer, the World Football Challenge is an exciting way for us to introduce these world-class teams and their star players to a brand new fan base while giving existing American fans of international soccer a first-hand experience like no other," said Michael Levine, co-head of CAA Sports.
Kenyon added, "The interest in soccer in the U.S. is higher than ever before and the proof is that these matches will be televised live on ESPN, the country's leading sports station."