AC Milan CEO Giorgio Furlani has stressed how important the United States is for the club as a market moving forward ahead of the three games the team will play.
Milan left Italy two days ago for the USA, with their first game of the Soccer Champions Tour coming in the early hours of Monday 23 July at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena against Real Madrid.
On 27 July, Milan will face Juventus at the Dignity Health Sports Park in Los Angeles and on 1 August they will play against Barcelona at the Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas. There will not only be games, as fan initiatives are planned too.
Milan put on a press conference shortly after they touched down in the USA with Christian Pulisic speaking to reporters, and Furlani briefed the media on why it is an important tour for the club.
“First of all I’d like to thank a new people. Thanks to the organisers of this tournament for having us here. Thanks to you guys [the reporters] for coming, some of you have followed us in the past, some of you are newer to AC Milan and I hope you will follow us for the rest of the season and more,” he began.
“Finally thanks to my colleagues, the players of course, they’re the key. The staff and then all of my other colleagues from the headquarters that have worked hard to make this happen, to be here and are fighting through the jet lag.
“We just got here yesterday. Let me say a couple of words, there’s someone who’s more interesting to speak to [Christian Pulisic] so I’ll just say a couple of words.
“Why are we here? Number one, this is a great tournament. We have a chance to play against some of the best teams in the world and to prepare for the upcoming season in the best way.
“Number two, we’re here because the US is really important for us. The US is the biggest sport market in the world, soccer is rapidly growing and I always call it soccer – I always call it soccer I’m not just doing it for you guys by the way – and so this is a really important market for us.
“It’s top three in terms of international markets for us, in terms of fan base, we have 16 fan clubs in North America, 13 in the USA, two in California – northern and southern – and we hope to welcome a lot of our fans from these clubs, other clubs and the country at our games in the next few days.
“The US is also important and strategic for us. We are American-owned, the fund RedBird Capital owns AC Milan. They operate at the core of the intersection of sports media, entertainment and culture.
“Los Angeles is a capital of all of these things. LA is a capital of entertainment, we in Milan are the capital of fashion. A couple of cities might challenge us but we don’t think so, and so fashion, culture and entertainment all come together so it’s important for us to be here.
“Last time we were in LA was 2018, so five years ago. We would like to come more often, there are a couple of legends of AC Milan that are here – Daniele Massaro and Franco Baresi – they played in LA a long time ago.
“When I was talking to you guys, I don’t know if it’s fair to say that soccer was kind of nascent in the US but you fast go from 1994 – the last World Cup played in the US – to 2023 and 2026, it has changed a little bit. That again brings us to how important the US is for us.”