Peter Kenyon, chief executive of Chelsea FC, was in Times Square in New York Tuesday to announce the inaugural World Football Challenge.
Chelsea, AC Milan, Inter Milan and Club America will participate in the pre-season round robin tournament, which takes place in six different cities from July 19-26.
The four teams competing have won 46 league championships and 35 international titles between them.
AC Milan director Umberto Gandini, Inter Technical Director Marco Branca and Club America President Michel Bauer were also at ESPN Zone Tuesday to announce the competition.
The six cities that will host the competition are Los Angeles, Atlanta, Baltimore, Boston, Dallas and San Francisco. New York was not considered as a venue because Giants Stadium will be hosting the 2009 CONCACAF Gold Cup final on July 26.
Lampard, Kaka, Terry, Ronaldinho and Ibrahimovich are just a few of the many superstars that will grace the pre-season tournament.
“We are delighted to be participating in the first ever World Football Challenge. It takes pre-season to a new level. We will be here for the fifth time in six years and with us will be every member of our first team squad,” said Kenyon. “All our new signings as well as our existing players will be here to play the three games.”
It is a hectic schedule for the four teams taking part, and even more so for AC Milan and Chelsea – the Italians also play the Los Angeles Galaxy and the Blues will play MLS new boys the Seattle Sounders – meaning the European giants will play four times in eight days.
Chelsea will certainly rack up the air miles while stateside, starting with a friendly against the Seattle Sounders on July 18 in Seattle. They start the World Football Challenge in Pasadena on July 21 versus Inter, then head over to Baltimore on July 24 to face AC Milan, and go back to Cowboy Stadium in Texas on July 26 to face Club America.
During the conference Kenyon expressed no worry about the heavy schedule, saying that there would be ample recovery time between the tournament’s end and the start of the new season.
Milan Director Umberto Gandini added that the substitution rules for the competition would ensure that all the major players would be able to make an appearance during each of the competition games.
One of the highlights of the competition will be AC Milan’s clash with city rivals Inter on July 26 at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough. “We are very honored that for the first time, in I think over 40 years, that there is Milan Derby played outside the San Siro (the Milan stadium both teams share), in Boston,” said Gandini.
The competition is being managed and organized by CAA Sports, a division of Creative Artists Agency, and ESPN will carry all the games live. Michael Levine, co-head of CAA Sports, confirmed during the press conference that over half the tickets on sale for the competition would be priced under $35.
After the press conference, Irishcentral.com caught up with Peter Kenyon to ask him for comment about reports that AC Milan coach met Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich in Paris recently.
“I don’t want to comment. We are concentrating on Guus being with us until the end of the season,” said Kenyon. “He‘s continuing to progress and win us games so we are all very delighted.”
When asked if Hiddink had made any indication about his future, Kenyon said: “The whole agreement was for a short term, interim period and that is how it remains.”
For more information about the tournament, visit www.worldfootballchallenge.com.
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