Juventus wants to play soccer in Michigan – Detroit Free Press
The official announcement that Comerica Park will host an International Champions Cup soccer match on July 19 in downtown Detroit, the first-ever soccer match at the ballpark. Video by Kevin Bull, DFP.
Goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon and the rest of Juventus F.C. could come to Michigan to play in the International Champions Cup in the future.
It’s a definite possibility according to Charlie Stillitano, chairman of Relevant Sports, which is responsible for the International Champions Cup, a summer tournament that features some of the best clubs in the world playing in sports venues across North America, Europe and China.
Stillitano was in Detroit on Wednesday to help announce that Paris Saint-Germain will play AS Roma at Comerica Park on July 19 to kick off the fifth season of the International Champions Cup. ICC is owned by Miami Dolphins owner Stephen M. Ross, who is a major benefactor of his alma mater, the University of Michigan.
“The Agnelli family has owned Juventus since 1929 and they have a little stake in FCA here — Fiat Chrysler,” Stillitano said. “I think they own 40% of Fiat Chrysler.”
Stillitano said Juventus wanted to come to Detroit this year, but was told that AS Roma was chosen to play here instead.
“We would like to make this a regular stop,” Stillitano said of Detroit hosting future ICC matches.
Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor has hosted ICC matches two of the last three years. In 2016, Real Madrid beat Chelsea FC, 3-2, before 105,000 fans.
In 2014, Manchester United beat Real Madrid, 3-1, in a match before 109,318 that broke the all-time attendance record for a soccer game in the U.S.
Stillitano said Michigan Stadium will “very, very likely” host a future ICC match.
“There’s no question Mr. Ross will not let his alma mater go quietly in the night, as they say,” Stillitano said. “We’re going to be in the University of Michigan for sure. We’re going to be here (Comerica Park) again for sure.”
The possibility remains of that an exhibition “El Clásico” match between Barcelona and Real Madrid could be played at Michigan Stadium in the future.
“When they see 110,000 people, the rivals like Barcelona want to say, ‘We want to beat that record,’ ” Stillitano said.
Ford Field was considered for this year’s game, and could be on the table in the future.
“Whenever we have a stadium we have to put grass into, it just becomes a little bit more of a challenge,” Stillitano said. “We do it all the time. Usually, in a year we have 15 games, let’s say, five or six will be on AstroTurf and we have to put grass in. The coaches demand it because they’re going the next week to play on grass.”
“With the respect to the U.S, we’re trying to get into cities like Detroit, where soccer is looking for a home, if you will,” Stillitano said. “Detroit (City) FC has done well here. … We see the great interest up in Michigan. We try to get into new markets. We’re a little like Johnny Appleseed … we try to see where the hot buttons are in soccer are in this county. On a personal level, I feel a real kinship to Detroit. My owner, clearly, has a real kinship, Stephen Ross being born here, it means everything to him that we’re here in Detroit.”
It’s more of a gamble, perhaps, to host Paris Saint-Germain and AS Roma in a baseball stadium than it was to fill Michigan Stadium with teams like Manchester United and Real Madrid.
Stillitano acknowledged that games featuring players like Ronaldo or Messi “sell themselves” in big venues.
“This year, we’re selling two great teams, but they don’t have the huge superstar that the other ones have,” Stillitano said. “In that regard, you’re really selling the game itself and you’re selling two great cities. Rome and Paris in Detroit. So, it’s very cool.”