Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Fenway's Soccer Tradition Returns

A soccer match at Fenway park last summer when
Celtic F.C. took on Sporting Club de Portugal. (Courtesy of NESN.)

Fenway Park’s most memorable moments have come from a 100-year history of Red Sox greatness, blunders and everything in between. However, one Fenway tradition that stretches back to 1931 has nothing to with the Red Sox. That tradition is soccer and it is being brought back to Fenway Park this summer.

It is no surprise to see John Henry and the Fenway Sports Group bringing their newly purchased English Premier League team for a summer tour stateside. Liverpool F.C., one of the largest and most recognizable soccer teams in the world, will be coming to the United States and will be playing a highly anticipated game at Fenway Park on July 25.

Liverpool F.C. team crest.
This will be the first time Liverpool have come to the U.S. since 2004 and will be only the second soccer match played in Fenway in over 40 years.

Henry, principal owner of Fenway Sports Group, is bringing the club to Fenway as part of Fenway Park’s 100-year anniversary celebration and is hoping to show off the stadium to a whole new audience.

In a statement Henry said, “During its 100-year history, Fenway Park has hosted some of the best in athletic competition, and a match between Liverpool and AS Roma – two of the world’s most well-known and respected clubs – is an appropriate way to help celebrate Fenway’s 100th anniversary and showcase our ballpark to an international audience.”

The very first soccer match at Fenway took place on May 30, 1931 with 8,000 fans showing up to watch the New York Yankees of the American Soccer League take on Scottish club Celtic F.C.

Since then Fenway has hosted 19 soccer matches, but up until 2010 it had lacked soccer for almost 40 years. It was only fitting that Celtic F.C. broke the soccer drought at Fenway on July 21, 2010 when they played against Sporting C.P. of Portugal.

“During its 98-year history, Fenway Park has been privileged to witness some of the best in athletic competition, not only in baseball, but in football, boxing and most recently in hockey with the 2010 NHL Winter Classic,” Sam Kennedy, executive vice-president and COO of the Boston Red Sox and president of Fenway Sports Group, said in 2010 via a Red Sox press release. “This match is a tremendous opportunity to highlight some of the top talent in the soccer world, and we want to thank Celtic F.C. and Sporting C.P. for bringing the sport here for the first time in over 40 years.”

Steven Gerrard, Liverpool F.C. team captain,
will lead his team into Fenway.
Liverpool will now continue this proud soccer tradition with the game against A.S. Roma from Italy. Two of the biggest clubs in the world bringing soccer to Fenway yet again and fans are excited.

“Im really excited about it and they have a big fan base all over the world so it’s great that they chose the United States and Boston,” said Ben Parinello, a 21 year-old Liverpool supporter living in Boston. “Not everyone gets a chance to go to England and see they’re favorite team play and Fenway is a great venue so I cant wait. ”

Fans should be excited because it sounds like there will be more soccer at Fenway to come. The Fenway Sports Group’s recent acquisition of Liverpool shows it’s commitment to growing the sport.

Liverpool will use Boston as it’s home base during the North American summer tour and will host pre-season training sessions at Harvard University.

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