Mobile to host 2007 finals
of huge Futbol Internacional
Alabama will host one of the largest women’s soccer events outside of the Olympics and World Cup games as Futbol Internacional 2007 kicks off in six cities to benefit the Alabama Youth Soccer Association, city officials announced today.
The event features national women’s teams from Argentina, Canada, China, Mexico, Trinidad & Tobago and the USA’s Under-21 national team.
Futbol Internacional will start in Birmingham’s Legion Field, home of the 1996 Olympic Soccer matches, with opening ceremonies and double-header games. It will end with triple-header finals in Mobile’s Baker High School stadium Saturday, April 28. The third-place game will begin at 2 p.m.; the fifth-place game at 5 p.m.; and the Championship Game kick-off at 7:30 p.m.
“Every soccer fan in the state and surrounding states will be able to see one of the largest international soccer events in the world,” says event organizer Scott
Spencer. “With the success and excitement that international matches have brought to Alabama, AYSA wanted to bring a global event that touches communities all over the state.”
The games will take the women’s teams to venues across the state from Birmingham, with stops in Huntsville, Tuscaloosa, Decatur, Montgomery and finally Mobile.
“This tournament clearly shows that economic development can come in many forms,” says Mobile Mayor Sam Jones. “Not just in a multi-national company from Europe, but also in a multi-talented team from Asia; Not just a competition over new jobs, but a contest between the very best female athletes in the world.”
Though the festival is about empowering youth in soccer and raising awareness of ‘futbol’ – as it is called around the world – it is also expected to raise Alabama’s image in the wide world of soccer, says Nichelle Gainey, president and CEO of SilverStone International, a sports marketing and consulting firm.
Gainey is lending her company’s support to raise awareness of the soccer event with the help of Alabama’s governmental and corporate communities. She is also using the international connections she’s made through her involvement with the 2006 World Cup and members of the Federation of International Football Associations (FIFA) to bring in dignitaries from the teams’ home countries.
Futbol Internacional is expected to generate a statewide economic impact of about $2.4 million as people from the participating nationalities and youth soccer players attend the week-long event.
As an event of the Alabama Youth Soccer Association, all 20,000 AYSA registered players will receive one free ticket to either the opening matches or the finals. The first 5,000 registered youth players from other states will also be eligible for free tickets. In addition, the festival will include six free youth clinics, a coaching symposium featuring International coaches, and a banquet honoring the teams, sponsors, and special guests.
General admission tickets are $16 per person and are available online at www.2007futbolinternacional.com. Children under age 4 are admitted for free.