When Chicago Red Stars owner Arnim Whisler and coach Rory Dames announced the acquisition of Mallory Pugh and Sarah Killion Woldmoe, they both prefaced the news by saying fans had a lot more to look forward to from the organization.
What they were referencing was made clear Tuesday afternoon when the club announced the inaugural International Women’s Cup. Whisler said it’s just the beginning of new programming fans can expect from the National Women’s Soccer League.
The tournament hosted by Racing Louisville FC will be played Aug. 18-21 and features the Red Stars and two UEFA Champions League teams that will be announced later.
The Red Stars and Racing Louisville will kick off the tournament on Aug. 18 and the winner of the match will play for the title against the winner of the Champions League match. The tournament will also feature a consolation match.
“This is a financial opportunity for the league and its teams,” Whisler said. “But frankly, I expect there will be some European teams who will decline to play in these kinds of tournaments. Because once you puncture this false supremacy of some of the European teams, the players won’t be there, and they know it.”
Global promoters approached Louisville about putting together a tournament that would be commercially interesting, Whisler said. The new NWSL team saw it as the perfect opportunity to intensify its budding I-65 rivalry with the Red Stars and invited Chicago to participate.
Whisler said it would be a weekend of activities in Louisville centered around international sports, and he’s hoping the early announcement will give fans ample time to plan the trip.
Louisville and Chicago approached the NWSL asking if they could play their league game against each other on Wednesday, Aug. 18, and have the weekend blocked off to complete the tournament. The only added game to the Red Stars schedule will be for the International Women’s Cup title or the consolation match.
The tournament will be played on the heels of the rescheduled Tokyo Olympics, and Whisler said their goal is to capitalize on that energy and boost the league's global brand building.
“It’s an honor to participate in the inaugural International Women’s Cup,” Dames said. “This is a great opportunity to face world-class talent from around the globe. We’re excited to represent Chicago on an international stage and showcase the ability the NWSL possesses.”