Atlanta to host international soccer events
Atlanta Business Chronicle – by Lisa R. Schoolcraft Staff Writer
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Atlanta, in the hunt to host the FIFA World Cup in either 2018 or 2022, is out to prove it can host big time soccer right now.

The Atlanta International Soccer Challenge is set for July 28 at the Georgia Dome featuring Mexico’s Club de Fútbol América (Club América) against the Barclays English Premier League’s Manchester City.

“We are proud to bring a soccer event of this magnitude back to Atlanta again this year,” said Michael Reene, International Events Groups Operations managing director, in a statement. “It’s not just a soccer match. It’s good for football, it’s good for soccer. It’s good for a World Cup bid.”

The United States is among 10 nations bidding for the World Cup in 2018 and 2022 and Atlanta is one of the 18 final host cities that will be included in the bid.

If the United States makes a successful bid, Atlanta will also be the host city for the international broadcast center, drawing 9,000 media representatives and staff over the 31-day World Cup event.

Atlanta hosted Club América and AC Milan last year in front of more than 50,000 fans at the Georgia Dome in 2009, he said.

“Club América is defending their space here in Atlanta,” Reene said.

Manchester City has a history in Atlanta as well, he said.

In 1968, Manchester City played two games against the former Atlanta Chiefs, and Atlanta’s team won both times.

This year’s game, which will have about a $3 million economic impact, also allows fans to see potential World Cup participants up close and personal, Reene said, as both teams will likely field players for the event, which will be held in South Africa June 11-July 11.

International Events Groups Operations is working on both a title sponsor and television rights for the game, as well, which could broaden the game’s reach beyond Atlanta, he said.

The soccer challenge “is sending a clear message of what we are capable of,” said Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed.

A successful soccer challenge “will signal Atlanta is an international city that embraces international sports,” he said. “It will put Atlanta on the map in the soccer world.”

Club América inked a three-year agreement with International Events Groups Operations and will serve as the home team against Manchester City. Opponents for the 2011 and 2012 Atlanta International Soccer Challenge will be announced later.

The Atlanta International Soccer Challenge will also benefit non-soccer organizations in the city, including Junior Achievement of Georgia.

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