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International soccer in Charlotte
AC Milan-Liverpool match raises local profile
Published Sunday, July 27, 2014 7:48 pm
by Ashley Mahoney, For The Charlotte Post

With the FIFA World Cup ending less than a month ago, American interest in soccer has not fizzled out yet.

With the U.S. men’s national team performance in Brazil still lingering, teams like Liverpool and AC Milan have received a warm welcome on American soil. The European powerhouses play on Saturday at Bank of America Stadium in the International Champions Cup. Kick off is at 6:30 pm for the 12th match of the tour.

“The fact that this game has been so well received is evidence of the continued growth of the soccer fan base in the Charlotte region,” said Will Webb, executive director of the Charlotte Sports Foundation. “We look forward to more high profile soccer events in the future.”

Charlotte has hosted high-caliber soccer matches before, but Liverpool is the first EPL team to play here. Seeing standouts like Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard and forward Daniel Sturridge play in the U.S. is a rare opportunity for American fans.

“This is a rare event for Americans to see two world class teams playing in their own back yard, so take advantage of the opportunity,” said Liverpool fan Brad Barnett of Charlotte. “Who knows, you might just become a fan of the beautiful game.”

Noted Laura Hill, spokeswoman for the Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority: “It’s an event that draws more than just locals. It has the potential to draw regionally and even internationally, especially given the accessibility of our airport.”  

Liverpool, also known as the Reds, won 18 English Premier League titles; AC Milan, referred to as the Rossoneri, has an equal number of championships in Serie A, Italy’s top league. However, the two have had few opportunities to play each other. The ICC presents a platform for teams from European leagues to play each other on American soil. Carlos Quevedo, president and founder of Liverpool’s organized fan base in Charlotte, the Liverpool Football Club Charlotte Reds, expressed anticipation beyond the economic impact on Charlotte.

“This match will show just how popular soccer is here,” he said. “All of the visitors will understand why so many transplants, such as myself, have fallen in love with the city.”

These fans are a diverse group. For instance, Queen City Outlawss President Matt Garner and his wife will be attending the game, but like many of Charlotte’s residents, they follow more than just soccer.

“I’m a fan of most sports, but there’s something unique about being a soccer fan—especially attending games,” said Garner. “The most unique aspect is fans at most sporting events go to be a fan, but soccer fans believe (wrongly, or not) that they can have a direct impact on the game.” After the 90 minutes of play, players typically thank the fans by applauding the four corners of the stadium. “There’s something special about going to a game and having the players thank the supporters at the end of the game,” Garner noted. “It’s nice to be appreciated.”

While this is not the Champions League Final of 2005, where Liverpool came back from a 3-0 deficit in the first half to win 3-2 in a penalty shootout, the history and anticipation between these two teams will radiate in Charlotte.

“Enjoy the atmosphere,” Quevedo said. “Soccer fans in general are happy to explain anything about the sport answer any questions you may have, and we definitely enjoy sharing a few pints.”


The game is Saturday, not Friday.
Posted on July 28, 2014

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