New York, N.Y. – “The Super Bowl of football, or soccer, in North America.” That is how Liga MX President Enrique Bonilla described the just announced Campeones Cup, the annual showdown between the MLS Cup winners and the champions of Liga MX.
The Cup is just one part of an agreement between Major League Soccer and Liga MX which was announced today by the two leagues and further discussed at a media roundtable at MLS headquarters in Manhattan that featured Bonilla and his MLS counterpart Commissioner Don Garber.
Speaking of this new deal between the rival leagues, Garber admitted that, “clearly this is an extension of the World Cup bid (2026).” “Both of us,” Garber explained, “are involved in that. We both are very focused on trying to bring the World Cup here to the U.S. Canada, and Mexico,” Garber said, noting that “the three (Federation) Presidents are now leading that effort.”
Another compelling part of this new arrangement will be an All-Star Game pitting the best players in the two leagues against each other in what Bonilla said will be the rare All-Star Game featuring a real “rivalry.” “We’re going to fight as if it is the World Cup because we want to win,” the Liga MX President said.
Also included in the deal is the exchange of ideas and best practices between the leagues with the two leaders saying that the leagues can learn from each other.
Bonilla expressed admiration for the “game day experience,” in MLS, which he termed “sensational,” while also noting that Liga MX could learn a thing or two about marketing from MLS.
Garber called Liga MX, “a mature league,” while saying MLS is “still in its first phase, its first generation,” so the MLS Commissioner would like his league to emulate the “quality of their competition, the quality of their actual tournament.” Garber also spoke admiringly of Liga MX’s split season. “I’m really attracted to this concept of how they manage their schedule and yet have playoffs and are able to create a competition that makes sense for them in their market.”
And Garber sounded downright envious of the Mexican league’s clubs that have created a global following for some of their clubs while also producing “world class players.”
Garber is confident that the new Campeones Cup will not hurt the CONCACAF Champions League, a competition that has long struggled for attention in the American soccer landscape.
In fact, the Commission said, “I think it’s the opposite. I think this is going to elevate it. Its whole purpose is to serve as a vehicle to make this, the Concacaf Champions League more valuable, to give it more exposure, to show that the two largest leagues within the confederation can have a special moment, if you will, and it will just add value to and importance to these games that are taking place today and tomorrow.”
Much has yet to be worked out but we do know that the inaugural Campeones Cup will take place in Toronto on September 19th with 2017 MLS Cup Champion Toronto FC hosting the winner of the Liga MX Campeones de Campeones, featuring the Tigres, winners of Liga MX Apertura, and the Clausura champs.
Bonilla revealed today that the Campeones de Campeones or Champions of Champions game will be held in Los Angeles, on or around July 15.