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Florida Cup returns in 2019 with Ajax, Sao Paulo FC in field

Posted on Sunday, June 24, 2018 at 6:00 am

The Florida Cup, an annual competition of a collection of the world’s best soccer clubs from national associations, returns for its fifth installment this January with a pair of the world’s most successful western European and South American professional clubs.

With Adidas and Universal Orlando Resort returning as main sponsors in 2019, the fifth annual tournament will feature 4-time UEFA Champions League European champions, AFC AJAX out of the Netherlands, and FIFA’s 3-time Club World Champions, Sao Paulo FC.

Their inclusion is a commitment to engaging fans in new markets, Florida Cup CEO Ricardo Villar said.

“We are also committed, to continue raising the fan experience for all ages during our event and it is important that our vision is aligned with the right clubs,” he said. “I believe our fans will be thrilled with the unfolding announcements for our 2019 event during the upcoming weeks.”

Florida Cup champions in 2017, Sao Paulo FC returns in 2019 for its second time participating in the event. Founded in 1930, the Sao Paulo Futebol Clube is one of the most successful clubs in Brazil. Sao Paulo’s fan base is numbered to be approximately 20 million people. The ‘tricolor’ from Sao Paulo, as it is known among fans, has won the Brazilian Championship six times. The club has also collected three Libertadores da America trophies and are three-time FIFA World Club champions (1992, 1993 and 2005). Sao Paulo’s youth academy has developed many of the world greatest football stars such as Orlando City MLS charter player Kaka, Cafu, Denilson, Casemiro and others.

Rai, Sao Paulo FC’s Football Executive said, “In such an important period of preparation for our first team, we had to choose a destination with great infrastructure, high-level opponents, adequate weather, and where everything is well organized. This will be our second participation in the Florida Cup. We are happy with the invite and certain about our choice for a pre-season of excellence.”

2019 will mark AFC Ajax’s first ever participation in the Florida Cup. Introduced to Florida Cup by European partner agency, Match IQ, Ajax has high hopes for the American market. Founded in the Netherlands in 1900, AFC Ajax is one of European’s most successful clubs with four UEFA Champions League titles, along with 33 Dutch league championships.

The club is known for its famous youth development academy which has produced football legends such as Marco Van Basten, Van der Sar, Bergkamp, Seedorf, Edgar Davids, Sneijder, Van der Vaart, the de Boer brothers, Patrick Kluivert and now son Justin Kluivert, among others.

Edwin van der Sar, CEO of AFC Ajax said: “We are happy to be participants in the Florida Cup 2019. On a sporting level, it is important that we test ourselves against international teams. By partaking in this tournament, we hope to create an ideal preparation for the second half of the season. The Florida Cup also suits our international strategy, as we aim to grow in the US market. Our first match will be broadcasted primetime in both North and South America. This serves millions of Ajax fans. We are going to make it a spectacle.”

AFC Ajax and Sao Paulo FC have faced each other only once before in 1997. The game, played at Sao Paulo FC’s Morumbi stadium, ended in a 1-1 tie.

The Florida Cup 2019 will take place in the second week of January. Event officials will begin unveiling other participating clubs and other news via social media, culminating in a major announcement in September with full event details including the match schedule, venues, tickets sales info and more. Fans can register to receive updates in real-time at www.floridacup.com.

Games in the 2018 place at Camping World Stadium and UCF’s Spectrum Stadium, as well as in Fort Lauderdale and St. Petersburg, although a new gridiron football team in the Alliance of American Football will take up residence at UCF this coming January and February.

The Florida Cup is the largest international soccer celebration held annually in Florida. It is a global platform that combines sports and entertainment, featuring concerts and other activities for fans of all ages. Previous winners of the tournament include Koln (Germany), Atletico Mineiro (Brazil) and Atletico National (Colombia), who won last year’s title over Barcelona of Ecuador.

Broadcast live to over 170 countries since 2015, the Florida Cup reached an audience of more than 22 million people in its last two editions. Globally recognized professional soccer clubs from Europe and Latin America will convene in Central Florida for this premier tournament – a final tune-up before the start of their respective campaigns.

The high-quality matches hosted by the Florida Cup has showcased world-class legends over years, such as Ronaldinho, Joe Cole and Veròn.