(by James Edwards deseretnews.com 5-17-08)
Real Madrid has officially backed out of its scheduled and contracted Aug. 9 exhibition game with Real Salt Lake according to RSL general manager Garth Lagerwey.
Real Madrid played a friendly at Rice-Eccles Stadium in 2006 in front of more than 40,000 fans, and a contract was signed between the two teams for a return visit in 2008.
Citing finances, Lagerwey said Real Madrid will instead will be in Colombia the first week of August, followed by a visit to Germany the following week.
It's estimated that RSL was supposed to pay Real Madrid 1 million Euros to make a visit to Utah in 2008. At the time, that translated into about $1 million U.S. dollars, but today would be about $1.6 million.
Real Madrid has decided it can earn significantly more taking its globally renowned brand elsewhere. Lagerwey couldn't help but admit that from the business side, it made sense for the European super club.
Lagerwey is obviously upset about the decision but stressed that RSL is committed to delivering quality international games to soccer fans in Utah anyway. He couldn't be specific, but RSL's GM said the club is in talks with a couple of Mexican League teams and a few European teams as well. Lagerwey also reiterated that Real Madrid's decision not to come to Utah this year doesn't impact the partnership between the two clubs that was signed in 2006.
Last year in a span of four days in July, RSL hosted exhibition games against Everton of the English Premier League and Boca Juniors from Argentina. It also faced the Fijian and Chinese National teams.
In addition to facing Real Madrid in 2006, RSL also played a friendly against Morelia of the Mexican first division.
Welcome to the RSL Cup blog
I've been a fan of Real Salt Lake since it joined MLS and took to the field in 2005, and I've been a fan of MLS since it began in 1996. Lately however I've started to worry about the path MLS is taking and the poor decisions they are making that in my mind threaten the growth of soccer as a whole in the US. (see "Columbus conspiracy" section) Soccer in America will grow only when we have a vibrant and diverse minor league system, something that MLS seems to be smothering at the moment. (see "American soccer wars" section) Let's keep our eyes on the situation and hope for the best, a future where grass-roots soccer and the minor leagues can not only exist but flourish, as well as where the contributions and history of the league's early clubs are appreciated and preserved.