Saturday, during a news conference in San Diego, +Professional Arena Soccer League Commissioner Kevin Milliken announced that the United States would be host of the first-ever Arena Soccer World Cup, with San Diego and Dallas among the cities likely to host games.
Milliken visited Citizens Business Bank Arena on Sunday to take in the Fury’s first-ever game, and talked about the Fury, the World Cup and the likelihood of Ontario being considered as a location to host games in the first-ever “fully sanctioned” worldwide event for a sport known as Arena Soccer, Indoor Soccer, Futbol Rapido and Mini Football.
The commissioner talked with OntarioFury.com for a few minutes between periods Sunday.
Q: What are your first impressions of Citizens Business Bank Arena?
A: “It’s a great arena. You’ve got a lot of passionate fans already for your home opener, who like to boo the goalkeeper on the other team. They’re already into the game, so it’s all really good.’
Q: Is it vital for the growth of the PASL to have teams playing in this size arena?
A: “We started off, we had, only one arena with over 5,000 seats in our first year. And now, we’ve got 14. We’re growing at a pretty rapid pace for any sports league. I’m very pleased with the growth, that’s for sure.”
|World Minifootball Federation|
Q: Let’s talk about the World Cup. What went into its formation?
A: “What happened was, it’s actually going to be under the World Mini Football Federation we just created, and a lot of the reports in the media have been FIFRA, because that’s what they’re used to us being part of it. Actually, we’ve been working on it since ’99. But we developed FIFRA in 2007 after the Mexican indoor soccer federation got turned down by FIFA for becoming a member for our sport. So they took that to court in Mexico, so they’re an independent body in Mexico, and their condition was we had to have a world governing body. So that’s when we started FIFRA. At the same time, the Europeans were doing the European Mini Football Federation. They’re playing the same exact sport as ours, six a side and everything, just no walls.
“And so, in April, we’ve been talking to them for a while, in April we met in England and formed the world World Mini Football Federation. And in October, we turned FIFRA into the Pan American Mini Football Confederation. (OntarioFury.com: So, it will be kind of like CONCACAF?) Right, except bigger, because we actually have North, Central and South America. So it would be like CONCACAF and CONMEBAL together. In all those discussion, we were like, now that we have a world governing body, we have to come up with some sort of world championship. We went through the process and we finally agreed that the U.S. with the arenas and the PASL and venues and attendance and growth would be a great place to hold it. Also, it’s important that our first world championship is with walls, because that’s what separates us from FIFA. All those things went into the decision that deciding that the World Cup for our new formed world federation should be here in the United States.”
Q: San Diego will be involved in hosting. Is there any place else?
A: “The other thing I announced too, is that the U.S. National Team will play at least one game in San Diego, and that will be a site, and the Mexican National Team will play at least one game in Dallas, and that’s been decided.
“It’s going to be regional. And it’s going to come down to dates, and it’s going to come down how our PASL teams perform at the gate. And what owners we decide, and what buildings we decide. Obviously this is a plenty nice enough venue. So we’re going to have four regions, with four teams in each region. So this region, obviously we have, potentially Las Vegas, Ontario and San Diego. So the beginning rounds there’s going to be six games, so that could potentially be two games in each building. We’re going to do that around the country in different areas where we’ve got three-four teams close together where we could use the facilities like that.”
Q: It will be in Feburary 2015, correct? Will the PASL season be over then?
A: “It will be really close to the end of our season, and actually some of our teams may finish that Friday night before it. But there may be a one game carry over, but then we’ll have playoffs after. It will be like a 10-day break between the end of the season and our playoffs, but we may still have a straggler game after.
“It’s a good time to do it. The NFL is over. Basketball and hockey are still sort of in the middle of the season – they don’t really start going until March or April. And March Madness for college basketball hasn’t started, so it’s really a nice little window.”
Q: Do you think having a World Cup will help bring more eyeballs to the sport?
A: “Absolutely. Again, we’re already getting eyeballs on the sport. The fact that we had a league attendance record in Monterrey of 9,627 just a week ago. San Diego had close to 6,000 last night. Dallas regularly sells out. And this is not a bad crowd here tonight. I really think it will be really good.
“And we’re going to be smart about what teams qualify and where we put them. For example, if El Salvador qualifies, they’re probably going to get a game in Ontario if things are going well here, because the I think the largest El Salvadorian population outside of El Salvador is right here in LA. So we’re going to pick venues and groups, so fans can come and see their home team.”