Soccer fans in South Florida have an interesting event to look forward to next week. The SPORTELSummit Miami Beach will bring a number of important figures in the sports world together to discuss the issues of the day. However, there are some notable absences that leave participants and followers asking: What happened?
In a coup for the fledgling league, the Pro Footvolley Tour announced last week that star of club and country soccer Ronaldinho will be joining the tour. It will be renamed “Ronaldinho’s Pro Footvolley Tour.”
According to a story by Luis F. Sanchez of el Nuevo Herald, the agreement was signed in Brazil on Thursday between Amaury Nunes, who runs a team with Menezes, and Ronaldo De Assis Moreira, brother and agent of Ronaldinho.
Footvolley, a combination of soccer and beach volleyball, was developed formally in the mid-1960s in Brazil. The sport was included as an exhibition sport in the 2016 Olympic Games of Rio de Janeiro. Menezes, who founded the Pro Footvolley Tour in 2008, was the captain of Team USA.
“The audience that Ronaldinho has on social networks will make it possible to take footvolley to another level,” Menezes told el Nuevo Herald.
Sebastian Abbot combines his passion for soccer and his background as a Associated Press bureau chief based in the middle east together in his latest project: “The Away Game: The Epic Search for Soccer’s Next Superstars.” Abbot will be appearing at Books & Books in Coral Gables to promote the book this weekend.
To listen to the full interview with Sebastian Abbot, play the video below!
The Supreme Soccer Search
Abbot’s book provides an inside look at the State of Qatar’s search for talent for its national team in advance of the 2022 FIFA World Cup, which Qatar is hosting. The country has poured hundreds of millions of dollars into a talent search which has focused on Africa.
“[Qatar] has held tryouts for more than five million boys, mostly in Africa, looking for soccer’s next superstars,” Abbot said in an interview Thursday night. “Every year, they’ve chosen a handful of kids and trained them to become professionals at a billion-dollar sports academy in Qatar … It was over 1,000 times more selective than getting into Harvard.”
It was Abbot’s background in the Middle East and Africa that enabled him to pursue the project.
“I was living and working in Cairo as a foreign correspondent for the Associated Press and sort of stumbled across the story,” Abbot said. “I wrote an article about it at the time and eight years later wondered if anyone had ever written a book about it. Nobody had, so I kind-of launched on a four-year odyssey.”
The book takes a wide-view perspective of the search and what Qatar is doing in advance of the World Cup, but also spends time with a few of the boys who made the cut and were selected to train with the Qatari program.
“I largely focus on three African boys who were found 10 years ago — Two fro Senegal, one from Ghana — and tell the story through their experience,” Abbot said. “I talk about where they grew up, where they learned how to play soccer, where they were first spotted by Qatar’s scouts and the experience of being transported from their home to Doha, a world that was so radically different than where they came from that it was hard for them to believe.
“For me, it was fascinating to get to know these kids and spend time with them. When you spend time in West Africa … you sort of realize these kids are very indicative of the millions of kids in Africa that grow up dreaming about becoming stars in Europe. They spend their lives, their childhoods, playing on dirt fields idolizing players like Messi and Ronaldo. For some of them to actually achieve that and get to Europe was just an amazing experience.”
El Clasico Chat
Abbot will be appearing at Books & Books in Coral Gables at 1:30 on Sunday, May 6, for a talk about his book, but the experience will offer even more for soccer fans, and fans of Barcelona and Real Madrid in particular. Abbot will be featuring in a traditional book talk and question and answer session, but afterwards Books & Books will be showing El Clásico. Abbot will provide halftime commentary as well.
“I think it’s going to be a really fun event,” Abbot said. “Folks who come will get to learn about this epic worldwide search for the next Messi and then they’ll get to watch the real one in action as he takes on Real Madrid”
While it may not be El Clasico in 2018, Miami is rumored to host some major friendlies in the summer at Hard Rock Stadium. In a leaked set of games from the International Champions Cup 2018 schedule, it seems that Miami will be hosting two men’s matches in addition to the two women’s matches announced earlier in the month.
As the 2018 FIFA World Cup nears, more and more soccer-related events will be popping up around the world and throughout Miami-Dade County. One such event starts tonight, as Pérez Art Museum Miami is hosting the opening ceremony for its latest exhibition: “The World’s Game: Fútbol and Contemporary Art.”
PAMM members will get a sneak preview today, as only they will be able to view the exhibition from 10 a.m. through 9 p.m. At 9 through 11 p.m., the exhibit will be open to the public for the first time.
Andrew Das of the New York Times is reporting that the International Champions Cup, the brainchild of Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross and Relevent Sports executive chairman Charlie Stillitano, will be adding a four-team Women’s International Champions Cup competition this summer. In addition, all the games featuring top-flight women’s clubs will take place in South Florida, with a final at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens.
(UPDATE: Matt Higgins of RSE Ventures confirmed to Magic City Soccer that all games will take place at Hard Rock.)
Any time fans get an opportunity to meet legends of the game, they usually jump at the chance. That’s why April will be so exciting for many supporters in South Florida. Footballing greats Lothar Matthäus and Ray Clemence will be visiting Miami-Dade and Broward counties, respectively, to spend time with those who want to know more about their times in the sport.
According to Michelle Kaufman of the Miami Herald, negotiations are underway to bring a post-World Cup friendly match to Hard Rock Stadium featuring Brazil and Argentina.
As the culmunation of two months of Carnaval events organized by Kiwanis of Little Havana — which most famously includes Calle Ocho — the Carnaval Miami 5v5 Fútbol Challenge is taking place today at Kendall Soccer Park in West Kendall.
Stephen Ross may yet have his soccer team, just not quite the Major League Soccer outfit he may have imagined.
According to Corriere dello Sport – Stadio, one of Italy’s major sports newspapers, Ross has inquired about the ownership of legendary Serie A club AC Milan.