2015 Florida Cup Bringing Bundesliga to the USA in January

For updated information on Florida Cup including ticketing and broadcast details, see our latest post here.

1. FC Köln and Bayern Leverkusen will spend part of their winter preparations for the Rückrunde in the United States as participants in the 2015 Florida Cup, a four-club competition taking place in Orlando and Jacksonville this January.

The two Bundesliga sides will not face one another while in Florida, at least not as part of the cup competition. Each will face Brazilian sides Corinthians and Fluminense  in an effort to collect points in tandem while representing Germany as a team against the Brazilian Serie A duo.

Ricardo Vilar, a Brazilian with ties to Germany through ten appearances with FC Kaiserslautern, worked with sports and education company 2SV to bring the tournament to fruition in the land where he ended his own footballing career with FC Dallas of Major League Soccer.

“The basic idea was to use the time at the training camp, where the clubs are working under highly professional conditions, to play high-quality friendlies,” explains Villar. ” We are providing the best possible sporting infrastructure with our partner, and the format of the Florida Cup is an ideal platform.”

Both Bayer 04 CEO Michael Schade and Köln managing director Jörg Schmadtke spoke of the “high-quality” of competition available to the clubs while preparing for the second half of the Bundesliga season as a primary reason for taking part in the tournament, but were also both quick to speak to desires of making pathways, both for their individual clubs and for the DFL, into US market as interest in the sport continues to grow.

Ticketing and venue information for the matches have not yet been announced.

1. FC Köln will arrive to the United States first, with plans announced to be in the Sunshine State January 8 – 18, staying at the Hotel Wyndham Bonnet Creek while in Orlando and moving to the Crown Plaza when arriving to Jacksonville.

Bayer Leverkusen will land on January 9, moving into the Omni Orlando Resort for the entirety of their visit. Bayer plans also to depart on th 18th.

Florida Cup Fixtures

January 15 in Orlando:

Fluminense – Bayer Leverkusen 04

Corinthians – 1. FC Köln

January 17 in Jacksonville

Bayer Leverkusen 04 – Corinthians

1. FC Köln – Fluminense

Well, it’s now been announced as official.

As reported a few weeks ago as something in the planning stages, the 1. FC Köln will be landing on American soil in January as part of their winter break preparations for the second leg of the season.

The centerpiece of the visit will be test matches, of course, which will come in the form of the “Florida Cup.”

Rather, let’s call it a (rather than “the”) Florida Cup. When I desperately crawled the internet for further evidence of a potential visit upon the initial rumors thereof, I found loads of things calling themselves “Florida Cup,” but no standing competition that would be a likely landing spot for the Billy Goats and their training efforts.

Yet, here they come.

Also taking place in Florida Cup matches is, as reported earlier, Bayer Leverkusen 04, and two Brazilian clubs, Fluminese and Corinthians FC.

The details of how the competition is to be run is not something I find that interesting, excepting for that there will be no Sunshine State edition of the derby between the most-glorious club in the world and their pharmaceutical-pushing neighbors from the other side of the Rhine river.

Each of the two Bundesliga clubs will face each Brazilian club once, for four matches total. Two will take place in Orlando on January 15 and two in Jacksonville on January 17. Because this appears to currently be the only English-language piece on the event to be found via Google, I don’t know what the venues or times are for the individual matches, but you can assume I’ll update such information when I learn of it.

At the very least, however, you can book your flights, hotel, and probably a rental car, if you have designs on seeing the Effzeh in the land of Mickey Mouse. If you really want to stalk the club, Orlando’s Hotel Wyndham Bonnet Creek and Jacksonville’s Crown Plaza are to house them during their stay.

Uh, I guess “you’re welcome” for the free plugs, hotel peoples.

Despite the lack of much of an English-language entity in FC Köln’s media efforts, Jörg Schmadtke says the trip is indicative of the potential seen in the American market.

“We are glad for the opportunity to compete in this high-class tournament. We find Florida to have the perfect conditions for training camp,” began Schmadtke’s sales pitch. “It’s an attractive opportunity for the 1. FC Köln to present itself in the USA and the region in general. It is an interesting market for us and for the DFL, both strategically and economically.”

Okay, Herr Schmadtke . . .

Florida in January is the land of college football bowl season, for the most part. There is all sorts of corporate graft going on with our collegiate sports system, but that probably doesn’t take away resources from those who will be trying to make money off “Florida Cup,” so there is a good chance everyone will be treated in a very “high class” way. Plus, we’re all about that hospitality thing, so . . . sure, let’s call it a “high-class tournament.”

But if you honestly find the USA and the surrounding region to be a good target market, you have to start disseminating information in English. It’s that simple. Americans are not, in general, bi-lingual. The majority of those who are do not speak German, rather Spanish. The only way people are going to get in is if they can follow the club easily, and that means more languages. You may have a head start with some of the Spanish-speaking folk, actually, because Bundesliga has been carried in the USA on a television channel more readily available in Spanish than in English. In fact, one of my former neighbors, who happens to be a first-generation immigrant from Mexico, spotted my Effzeh cap at a neighborhood party and used it as an entry point for discussion.

Of course, we then spent the rest of the event talking football, because that is the power and pull of the game.

Anyhow, I hope you’re serious. I hope this isn’t happening solely because someone promised it would be profit-making, even though I completely approve of that, too.

I just want the expansion into the US market. It’s not the English, either. My German is passable enough where I’m not hindered at all by the language barrier. But I do think the English Premiership will continue to dominate, even if only based on the language piece. What is available to you . . . no, to US . . . is a cut of a growing pie . . . apple pie! (because that’s American as hell. Get some while you’re here, but be careful where you order your coffee. . .

Back to the point. Glad you’re coming. Glad to hear the US market is in your sights.

I just hope that after January 19 I continue to hear about it.

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Randall Hauk is a freelance writer living in the United States while covering German football. He is currently the publisher of Planet Effzeh, an English-language site covering 1. FC Köln. He wrote about the German national team for the Telegraph as part of their World Cup Nation coverage.

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