Major League Soccer and Liga MX announced a new strategic partnership Tuesday, which will include a new Campeones Cup — a game played between the champions of the two leagues — as well as an all-star game in the future which will see the best of MLS take on the best of Liga MX.
The first Campeones Cup will be hosted by Toronto FC on Sept. 19, 2018. Their opponent will be determined based on the winner of the Campeon de Campeones, a matchup between the winner of Liga MX’s two tournaments, which will take place in mid-July.
The details of the joint all-star game are not yet worked out. This stems from the fact that Liga MX and MLS have such different schedules, though Garber and Bonilla seemed confident the details would be ironed out soon.
In a press conference on Tuesday at MLS offices in New York, MLS commissioner Don Garber and Liga MX president Enrique Bonilla discussed their hopes for the partnership, and spoke on how it will strengthen the joint hosting bid that is being made by the U.S., Mexico, and Canada for the 2026 World Cup.
“This was really about ... how can we grow the game in North America?” said Garber.
Garber also spoke at length about the partnership extending into grassroots campaigns within communities in the U.S. and Mexico. The league recently came under criticism for a seeming failure to engage with Sueño Alianza, a youth tournament hosted in the United States that showcases Latino players, and which Liga MX clubs have attended regularly.
When discussing what each league can learn from the other, Garber discussed the quality of the play, as well as how MLS could learn from how Liga MX has organized their schedule to accommodate competitions. Bonilla spoke about how Liga MX can learn from MLS’ expertise in game-day experiences for fans.
Garber also made clear the partnership was formed to take make sure the two leagues were taking advantage of the audience they had worked to grow in this country ... and not allow other leagues around the world from coming in and doing that.
“When we travel around the world ... what we’re really bringing to the discussion is this enormous market. The rest of the world in many ways is looking to come into our market and take advantage of all the investments that the league, U.S. Soccer, FMF, and Liga MX have made to grow the value,” Garber said. “... We’re the ones investing in it, as opposed to others, who are coming in and taking more than they’re putting back.”