Rakuten and ESPN on board for Relevent's ICC Futures tournament
Relevent Sports, the organiser of the International Champions Cup, the multi-continent pre-season exhibition soccer tournament, has announced plans for a new youth tournament, the first edition of which will be held in USA next month.
Rakuten, the Japanese e-commerce company and shirt sponsor of FC Barcelona, will be the presenting partner of the International Champions Cup Futures U-14 Soccer Tournament, to be held at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at Walt Disney World Resort in Florida on 16 to 22 July.
The event will involve 24 teams from USA and Europe comprising many of the best under-14 players in the world, and in conjunction with the established Disney Cup International Tournament for young players.
The participants will include eight teams from Major League Soccer’s Development Academy, eight US all-star teams and eight European academy teams associated with leading professional clubs Arsenal, Atlético Madrid, Borussia Dortmund, Celtic, Chelsea, Bayern Munich, Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur.
ESPN, the US sports broadcaster, will provide live television coverage of the ICC Futures, with the quarter-finals on ESPNU on 20 July, the semi-finals on ESPNNEWS on 21 July and the final on ESPN2 on 22 July.
Rakuten's deal includes sponsorship roles for subsidiaries Ebates (official shopping rewards partner), Rakuten Viber (official messaging app and community), Rakuten Kobo (official eReader and eBook partner) and Rakuten OverDrive (official e-library partner).
As well as as being a major partner of Barcelona, Rakuten is the owner of Vissel Kobe, the Japanese J1 League club that recently signed star player Andrés Iniesta from the Spanish club.
Charlie Stillitano, the co-founder and executive chairman of Relevent, said of the new event: “The future of the sport depends on finding, training and encouraging the world's up-and-coming youth players. The ICC Futures was created to give U.S.-based players the chance to participate in a world-class tournament at the U-14 age group, on home soil and without any cost. This will give us a real insight into where the U.S.-based players are compared to same-aged counterparts playing for top professional academy teams in Europe."
The ICC was launched in 2013 and this year’s sixth edition will involve 18 top clubs from around the world, including Barcelona, Real Madrid, Manchester City, Manchester United, Bayern Munich and Juventus, playing 27 matches in 22 cities in USA, Europe and Asia (Singapore) from 20 July to 12 August.
It will be accompanied by a first-ever Women's International Champions Cup involving the women's teams of Manchester City, Olympique Lyonnais, Paris Saint-Germain and North Carolina Courage in Miami on 26 to 29 July.