New York City to host the Ligue 1 curtain raiser

by Antoine Furet

On March 23, the city of New York was rewarded with the Trophee des Champions. The game, set to kick off at 3:00pm local time on July 28th (9:00pm French time), will feature Lyon and the Ligue Un winner. Considered to be the start to the Ligue 1 season when the previous league and Coupe de France winner square off for the “French Super Cup”, this year, the 17th edition will take place just outside Manhattan. For the fourth year in-a-row, the annual tournament will be played abroad– Canada hosted the tournament in 2009, Tunisia in 2010, while the 2011 version was hosted in Morocco.

Even the tournament’s logo has links to France and the city of New York. With the French tricolour along the sides of the trophy, the Statue of Liberty is visible in the middle of the logo. In 1886, French sculptor Frederic Bartholdi gifted the statue to the city of New York.

For the past ten years, the winner of the Trophee des Champions has at least won the title back-to-back. From 2002 to 2007, Lyon dominated the tournament, winning every time. In 2008, Lyon lost to Bordeaux on penalties. In 2009, Laurent Blanc’s side once again won the title after they beat Guingamp. In the 2010 and 2011 tournament, Marseille beat Paris Saint-Germain and Lille, respectively.

New York is home to Major League Soccer side, New York Red Bulls. The “Red Bulls” do have some former Ligue 1 players. Former Finnish international Teemu Tainio won two Coupe de France trophies with Auxerre. Defender Rafael Marquez won one Ligue 1 and Coupe de la Ligue Trophy with Monaco in the early 2000’s. The Mexican international also won the 2000 Trophee des Champions when Monaco beat Nantes on penalties. French international Thierry Henry, won the Ligue 1 in 1997 and the Trophee des Champions that same year when Monaco beat Nice 5-2.

If Lyon win, they will be rewarded with their 8th Trophee des Champions. As for the potential Ligue 1 winners, this will be Montpellier’s first appearance while Paris could bring their third Trophee des Champions to the Parc des Princes. Lille, who are currently in third in the Ligue 1 standings, have never won the prestigious trophy but have lost twice.

The Trophee des Champions is a great way to promote French football abroad. In the words of Didier Deschamps, after winning the 2011 final:

“That is a very nice promotion for French football”

It certainly was. After 85 minutes, Lille was leading Marseille 3-1 but two penalties by Andre Ayew gave Marseille a 4-5 win in Tanger, Morroco.

To anyone in the New York metropolitan area and across North America, take advantage of this opportunity to watch two great teams in French football. Tickets start at $20 and go up to $180.

For tickets, be sure to check out the Red Bull Arena ticket office.

Antoine Furet covers Major League Soccer and football in the United States for French Football Weekly. He is the editor of SSFC-Rumors and can be reached on twitter at @antoinefuret

For a taster, here are the highlights from 2011’s excellent game between Lille and Marseille that finished 5-4

Lille 4-5 Marseille | Match historique ! by ChrisLop

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