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Charlotte’s passion for world-class soccer draws iconic European teams

Bayern's Rafinha is fouled by Cologne's Anthony Modeste during the German Bundesliga soccer match between 1. FC Cologne and Bayern Munich in Cologne, Germany, Saturday.
Bayern's Rafinha is fouled by Cologne's Anthony Modeste during the German Bundesliga soccer match between 1. FC Cologne and Bayern Munich in Cologne, Germany, Saturday. AP

When David Tyler was putting together the short list of venues for the International Champions Cup, he didn’t have to think very long or hard about adding Bank of America Stadium.

“To be honest, it really was not a difficult decision at all,” Tyler, chief executive officer of event organizer Relevent Sports, said Wednesday.

This year, the home of the NFL’s Carolina Panthers will host two of European soccer’s storied teams – Germany’s FC Bayern Munich and Italy’s Inter Milan – in an ICC match on July 30.

This will be the third straight year that Charlotte has hosted a match in the 10-team International Champions Cup. England’s Chelsea played France’s Paris Saint-Germain last year, and England’s Liverpool took on Italy’s AC Milan in 2014.

In both games, attendance at Bank of America Stadium rivaled the draw of the Panthers, with crowds of 60,000 or more, according to Charlotte Mayor Jennifer Roberts.

“The last two years, the games that we’ve had here have demonstrated the strong passion for world-class soccer here in Charlotte,” Tyler said.

“This is a premiere host destination for us, and bringing the International Champions Cup here year on year is something that I really hope we can carry on doing.”

It also makes good business sense, according to Roberts. More than 200 German-based companies have offices in Charlotte and the surrounding region, and there are large German and Italian communities in the area.

“Tourism is a vital economic engine for Charlotte … and matches like this bring valuable business-to-business connections,” Roberts said.

This year’s ICC match at Bank of America Stadium could turn out to be the best yet, with the two teams combining for 43 national-league championships and eight UEFA Champions League or European Cup titles.

“We’re really looking forward to it,” said Jorg Wacker, a member of FC Bayern Munich’s board of directors. “We’re two iconic teams with a great history.”

In addition to its ICC match against Inter Milan, FC Bayern Munich will play Italy’s AC Milan on July 27 in Chicago, and Spain’s Real Madrid on Aug. 3 in East Rutherford, N.J.

Inter Milan’s other ICC matches are against Paris Saint-Germain on July 27 in Columbus, Ohio; and Ireland’s Celtic FC on Aug. 13 at a location still to be determined.

Also in the tournament are Chelsea, Liverpool, Spain’s FC Barcelona, and England’s Leicester City FC.

“We have Bayern Munich in one hand; on the other, we have Inter Milan,” Tyler said. “It’s crazy. Both of these clubs really feature some of the best players in the world.”

▪  Presale tickets for the FC Bayern Munich-Inter Milan match go on sale March 29, with sales to the general public beginning April 5. All tickets will be sold online at www.internationalchampionscup.com.

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