Is International Champions Cup a Success?

The International Champions Cup (ICC) has been a stable of the preseason calendar for all elite European sides for the past five years.
It has taken them to Singapore, USA, and Stockholm to play pre-season games which you are more likely to see at the latter stages of the Champions League. But has it been a success and are the American audience finally getting onboard with the most popular sport in the world?

The success has been undoubted. In the last five years, the International Champions Cup has gone from a niche tournament to a competition that is watched around the world by all audiences. 

That first competition in 2013 averaged attendances of 41,000. Then the following year, the tournament set an attendance record when than 109,000 attended to watch Manchester United vs. Real Madrid at Michigan Stadium.

The following year, Barcelona and Real Madrid met for the first time outside of Spain and Manchester United and Manchester City played the first Manchester derby outside of England. That year, 140 million people watched on TV, an increase of 45% from the previous year with attendances of 57,000 per game.

But while football was the big winner during that summer in the USA, the domestic league and the Gold Cup were overshadowed by the biggest clubs and names in the game taking part in the ICC. While records were smashed at all stadiums across the country hosting ICC games, attendances for MLS fixtures were at a season low.

The ICC had three games on the same night as the Gold Cup final. Barcelona vs. Manchester United, Paris St Germain vs. Juventus and Manchester City vs. Real Madrid, all the attendances for these fixtures was over 50,000. With the Manchester City vs. Real Madrid attendance breaking the 21-year MLS attendance record. 

MLS's quality is by far its downfall and with the attraction of the best teams and players in the world on show, their attendances are guaranteed to drop a little. It's not every day that they would be able to witness such high quality games between evenly matched teams from across the pond.

This is exemplified by the fact that this year's competition includes betting companies' preseason favorites for each of the top three leagues, with Manchester City, Juventus, and Barcelona all taking part.

It looks to expand further with founder and main investor for the ICC, Charlie Stillitano, spoke to the Irish Times about a recent meeting with Manchester United manager, Jose Mourinho. Stillitano said: "It is really interesting. I was with José Mourinho at UCLA, talking to the folks at Manchester United, and they were saying: 'We want to be in the women's tournament next year. We want your advice.

"Juventus have just launched a women's team this year and for us, it's the other side of the coin, because America is the standard bearer when it comes to women's football. We think it's an interesting twist and one that will really help women's soccer here."

Indeed, for the first time in the history of the ICC, they have setup a women's competition. A few of the regular teams that participate in the men's section stated an interest in being part and sending their women's teams over, but it was announced shortly before the beginning of the tournament that there will only be four sides competing before an expanded ICC will take place in 2019. 

This year's will simply feature a doubleheader of semifinals, followed by the third-place game and final three days later. All four matches will be held at the Hard Rock Stadium in Miami, which has a capacity of over 80,000. So it is likely that the attendance record of 21,320 will be broken during the tournament. The teams that are taking part in the inaugural event will be Manchester City, PSG, Lyon, and North Carolina Courage.

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