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European giants resume their “American dream” after the covid

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Los Angeles (AFP) – Like FC Barcelona and Real Madrid who face each other on Saturday in Las Vegas, the giants of European football have rested their foot in the United States this summer after two years of forced absence due to Covid-19 and the health restrictions.

The fourth Clasico in history played outside of Spain is the culmination of the Soccer Champions Tour organized by AEG, the sports and entertainment giant, owner among others of the Los Angeles Galaxy, reference club of the North American championship ( MLS).

This clash between the two giants of Spanish football will take place in the world capital of the game and its imposing Allegiant Stadium, the 60,000-seat enclosure where the Raiders American football team has played its home matches since 2020.

Tickets for this duel sold out quickly despite prices ranging from 250 to 900 dollars (195 to 880 euros) for the best seats at the edge of the field, according to the Ticketmaster sales and resales website.

The previous American Clasico played in front of more than 60,000 spectators in 2017 at the Hard Rock Stadium in Miami, was part of the International Champions Cup (ICC), a tournament which, until 2019, attracted the best European clubs to the United States which will co-host with Canada and Mexico the 2026 World Cup.

93,000 spectators for City-Real in 2017

In the hope of developing their commercial activities in the United States and increasing their popularity in a country where “soccer”, as football is always called, is in full expansion, the European elite had played the game of the ICC, which has become a must for Manchester City who faced Real Madrid in front of 93,000 spectators in 2017 at the Los Angeles Coliseum, Bayern Munich, Juventus Turin and other PSGs.

Everton goalkeeper Jordan Pickford poses with a fan before kickoff of his club’s friendly match against Minnesota United at Allianz Field in St Paul on July 20, 2022. Minnesota went on to beat Everton 4-0 David Berding GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA/AFP

After the covid period, the return to the United States is done in dispersed order.

On the one hand, the Soccer Champions Tour, organized by AEG, pits five teams against each other (Real Madrid, FC Barcelona, ​​Juventus Turin, America and Chivas). At the same time, four English clubs (Manchester City, Chelsea, Arsenal, Everton) and Bayern Munich will continue their preparation for the 2022-23 season on American soil by competing against each other.

“I think a lot of people are really excited to see the teams we used to look up to over the summer,” said Tom Braun, AEG’s vice president of football and business development.

“A lot of ambitions”

“It’s still quite new in the United States to see Barça and Real play against each other, so I think the interest is not diluted, and it also allows the fans, beyond the two clubs, to better understand this sport”, he adds.

“It’s been so long since their absence has encouraged fans to come back to the stadiums”, welcomes the leader of AEG.

Polish striker Robert Lewandowski and FC Barcelona president Joan Laporta pose for a photo during a press conference in Fort Lauderdale during the Catalan club's US tour on July 20, 2022 in Florida
Polish striker Robert Lewandowski and FC Barcelona president Joan Laporta pose for a photo during a press conference in Fort Lauderdale during the Catalan club’s US tour on July 20, 2022 in Florida Eric Espada GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA/AFP

American football fans will be among the first to see the Norwegian phenomenon Erling Haaland with his new Manchester City jersey, which faces Bayern Munich on Saturday at the legendary Lambeau Field of the Green Bay Packers, another NFL franchise.

Polish striker Robert Lewandowski, who left Bayern Munich for Barça earlier this week, has joined his new teammates in the United States. For the Catalan club, plagued by serious financial problems, the return of the American tour is good news: its president Joan Laporta and other members of the board of directors made the trip with the main objective “to grow the Barça brand globally”.

“There are a lot of ambitions, especially to develop different relationships with partners in another way. It goes beyond just making money”; summarizes Tom Braun, of AEG.

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