Singaporeans' chance to see football stars such as Lionel Messi in their country increased as the country's tourism board signed a four-year deal with the International Champions Cup (ICC). (Photo : Getty Images)
Singaporean football fans are in for a special treat as the country's 55,000-seater National Stadium is set to host this year's International Champions Cup (ICC), Today Online reported.
According to organizers Relevent Sports and Catalyst Media Group (CMG), the cup's 2017 edition marks the first time that ICC will be held in Southeast Asia. Other Asia-Pacific venues that previously hosted the event were China and Australia.
The cup, touted as a "prestigious club exhibition pre-season tournament," was first launched in 2013. Its fourth installment, slated on July 25 until 29, will witness football heavyweights such as Chelsea, Bayern Munich and Inter Milan clash in the field.
Apart from this year, Singapore will also be the ICC's only Southeast Asian stop until 2020, hyping up the possibility of Singaporeans personally seeing the sports' greatest living legends such as Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo. This comes after the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) inked a four-year deal with CMG.
The said deal was a first for ICC in terms of signing a formal agreement with a country to become an exclusive stop in the cup's itinerary.
Meanwhile, CMG President and Chairman Patrick Murphy stressed out why Singapore is perfect for the tournament.
"It has wonderful hospitality for the clubs in terms of hotels, an amazing stadium, an incredible airport--basically, it has all the raw materials to run a very complicated event like this," Murphy told news outfit Today.
STB deputy chief executive Melissa Ow revealed that they have been discussing the deal since early last year.
"The fact that it will only take place in Singapore and over a span of four years will give us a chance to reach out to regional fans of the various clubs, and (other) football fans to make it viable for them to come here and see some of the best football action," she shared, emphasizing that having Singapore as the ICC's sole Southeast Asian venue is a crucial factor for the agreement.
Annually, football followers watch a different line-up of participating teams following the ICC's three-team, round-robin format.
"Clubs like to play one year in North America and the next year in Asia, so over the course of the four years, I think fans can expect to see a very good selection of top clubs," Murphy assured.
Besides the venue aspect, ICC and Singapore are also partnering to help boost football in the country. In the future, the cup will be working with the Football Association of Singapore and Sport Singapore "to contribute to local grassroots and youth development programs," Today wrote.