- The Washington Times - Monday, July 16, 2007

SEOUL — Organizers of the Peace Cup have big ambitions to promote the tournament’s brand. After holding the biennial event in South Korea three times, the international club event will be played in Europe in 2009, with Spanish giant Real Madrid as a possible host.

“Real Madrid has been invited to see the Peace Cup,” said Alfonso Roberes, Madrid’s international marketing director who arrived in Seoul yesterday. “This is a project for us to think about in 2009. The Peace Cup officials came to see us in Spain, and we have been in discussions with the Sunmoon Peace Football Foundation to see whether we can hold the event in Spain.”

Madrid is the richest soccer club in the world, according to a recent report. Last month the team won its first title in four years behind new Los Angeles Galaxy star David Beckham.

Madrid was invited to attend this year’s event, which involves noted teams like Bolton Wanderers, River Plate and Olympique Lyon, but the late-starting Spanish league schedule did not allow it to work out logistically.

“We had the chance and we wanted to come, but from a sporting point of view it was impossible because the players were still on holiday,” Roberes said.

When that failed, Peace Cup organizers invited the Los Angeles Galaxy, which played in the inaugural event in 2003.

“When we invited the Galaxy in 2003 we got them very cheap,” said David Yoo, secretary general of the Peace Cup. “When we invited them this time, the price was incredibly high because of Beckham.”

Yoo showed journalists posters for the 2007 Peace Cup, which were printed in expectation of the Galaxy’s arrival, featuring Beckham’s image.

Madrid, which played D.C. United to a 1-1 tie in Seattle last August, wants to moderate its overseas travels in the preseason. This summer, the team is not straying too far from home with a game against Stoke City in Austria next week.

“We are going to discuss this prestigious tournament,” Roberes said. “There’s a great possibility to bring teams — the best teams — such as Manchester, Chelsea and Bayern Munich, to future events. We are here to discuss all that.”

This year’s event cost $20 million to stage.

The Sunmoon Peace Football Foundation also sponsors the Peace Queen Cup, a women’s national team event, which the U.S. national team won in November in Korea. That tournament is slated to be held in 2008 in either Japan or the United States.

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