We’ve got breaking news this week regarding off-season soccer in Florida! We’ve confirmed with former FC Dallas player Ricardo Villar that the inaugural ‘Florida Cup’ will be held in Orlando and Jacksonville, beginning on Friday, Jan. 15. It will feature two teams from the German Bundesliga, along with two teams from the Brazilian Série A.
Villar, born in Sao Paolo, Brazil himself, currently serves as Director of International Relations for sport events and education company 2SV, who will arrange the event. While the teams and dates are confirmed, we’re still waiting for details on where the matches will take place. 2SV has a partnership with the Disney Wide World of Sports complex, and sources tell us that the Orlando matches will likely take place there.
The first round of the tournament will be held in Orlando on the 15th, and will feature Fluminese FC vs. Bayer Leverkusen 04, and Corinthians Sao Paolo vs. 1. FC Köln. The second round will be just two days later in Jacksonville, where the two German squads will face the Brazilian team they did not play in the previous match.
These clubs might not be household names to the casual American fan, but they are actually quite formidable. Corinthians and Fluminese finished fifth and sixth, respectively, last year in Série A, the top league in Brazil. Bayer Leverkusen finished fourth in the powerhouse German Bundesliga to earn a spot in the UEFA Champions League, and Köln placed first in the German second division to earn promotion back to the top tier for this season.
As has become typical, the clubs may have ulterior motives in playing their preseason football stateside. Köln sporting director Jorg Schmadtke told Bundesliga News, “We’re delighted to be able to participate in what is a high-profile tournament. It’s a great incentive for FC Köln to boost our profile in the US.”
Villar, for his part, had this to say regarding the new Florida Cup:
“The basic idea was to use the time at the training camp, where the clubs are working under highly professional conditions, to play high-quality friendlies. We are providing the best possible sporting infrastructure with our partner, and the format of the Florida Cup is an ideal platform.
This news should come as some consolation to the fans who were disappointed at the news of the cancellation of the Disney Pro Soccer Classic, first reported on this site last week.
The details aren’t all ironed out yet, but we’re in touch with Villar as well as Disney. We’ll update you as soon as we know, but be sure to follow us on Twitter at @TheManeLand and @FootyAmerica for the latest.