International Champions Cup expands to record size

Pre-season football competition the International Champions Cup (ICC) has added a number of new host cities for its largest-ever edition in 2018, as organisers confirmed the launch of a women’s event.

ICC owner, media, sports and entertainment group Relevent, has unveiled a schedule featuring 18 clubs playing 27 matches across the United States, Europe and Singapore. Whereas last year’s ICC focused on the United States, China and Singapore, the 2018 tournament will bring in new markets.

The ICC will host US-based matches in New York/New Jersey, Miami, Los Angeles, Washington D.C., Chicago, Charlotte, San Diego, Minneapolis, Pittsburgh, Dallas, and Philadelphia. European host cities include Vienna, Gothenburg, Madrid, Stockholm, Naples, Klagenfurt, Lecce and Warsaw. Singapore will also showcase three matches at the Singapore National Stadium. 

With matches scheduled between July 20 and August 12, the 2018 International Champions Cup will also take on a new format. Whereas past tournaments recognised a winner within each participating continent, this year’s competitive structure will take on a more cohesive format, creating one overall global champion. 

The upcoming competition includes all of this season’s Uefa Champions League quarterfinalists, with the full lineup consisting of Spanish LaLiga clubs Barcelona, Real Madrid, Atletico Madrid and Sevilla; English Premier League teams Manchester City, Manchester United, Tottenham Hotspur, Liverpool, Chelsea and Arsenal; Italian Serie A outfits Juventus, Roma, A.C. Milan and Inter Milan; German Bundesliga duo Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund; French Ligue 1 champion Paris Saint-Germain and Portuguese Primeira Liga club Benfica. 

Each team will play three matches, and the club with the most points at the end of the tournament will be crowned champion. First reported by US newspaper the New York Times last week, Relevent has also formally confirmed the launch of a women’s ICC.

The 2018 Women’s International Champions Cup will bring three of Europe’s top women’s teams, including Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain, to participate in a preseason training camp at the University of Portland alongside the top-40 Elite Clubs National League (ECNL) players, aged from 17 to 19, between July 21-26. 

Following the training camp, the European clubs will fly to Miami and will be joined by National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) team North Carolina Courage for the inaugural Women’s International Championship Cup. Semi-final matches will be played on July 27, with the third-place match and final scheduled for July 29 at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami. 

Daniel Sillman, chief executive of ICC and Relevent, said: “In addition to hosting legendary clubs in great cities and creating the European football experience, we are committed to finding new and innovative ways bring the teams, players and fans together. Last week’s announcement of the first-ever women’s tournament was met with overwhelming response, underscoring the passion for European soccer and our mission.”