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Bayern Munich to play two friendlies in Singapore

Bayern Munich to play two friendlies in Singapore
Bayern Munich's Thomas Muller celebrates scoring their fifth goal against Arsenal in the recent Champions League tie. Photo: Reuters

Bayern Munich to play two friendlies in Singapore

German champions to make visit in July, possibly as part of prestigious ICC tournament

SINGAPORE — German football champions Bayern Munich are likely to be one of the teams competing in the prestigious International Champions Cup (ICC) to be held in Singapore this July.

Club chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge told German media on Thursday (Feb 16) that the five-time European champions will be touring Asia as part of their preparations for the 2017/18 season.

This includes stops in China and Singapore in July, which is the same period that the ICC will be held here.

“We will have two games in China and two games in Singapore,” said Rummenigge at a club event in Munich, where former players Giovane Elber, Bixente Lizarazu and Hasan Salihadmidzic were unveiled as Bayern’s new brand ambassadors.

Started three years ago by Relevent Sports, the ICC - the premier club exhibition football tournament - is hugely popular with football fans. The 2016 edition attracted close to 800,000 spectators and 70 million global television viewers.

TODAY had reported last month that the Singapore Sports Hub and various parties are in talks to bring it to the 55,000-seater National Stadium.

Responding to TODAY’s queries, a Sports Hub spokesman said: “As the premier sporting, lifestyle and entertainment destination in Singapore with a 55,000-capacity stadium..., we are always in discussion with a variety of event owners, managers and promoters to present quality events and activities at the Singapore Sports Hub for our myriad audience.

“With regard to specific events however, we are unable to comment on ongoing discussions and/or speculation.”

It is understood by TODAY that Bayern are one of three clubs pencilled in for the tournament, with another possible side being Italian giants AC Milan.

Each club will play two games - one in the semi-finals and another in either the final or third-place play-off.

Since 2013, the ICC has seen top teams from the English, Spanish and Italian leagues competing in host cities worldwide during pre-season. Last year’s edition was played in 19 host cities across seven countries, drawing participation from marquee clubs such as Manchester United, Manchester City, Liverpool, Real Madrid and Barcelona.

Details of this year’s edition have not been finalised, with the official website displaying an “ICC 2017 announcement coming soon” message.

But Real — 11-time European champions and winner of 32 La Liga titles — have confirmed their participation in Miami for the season, with the city of Orlando also set to host the tournament for 2017 and 2018.

Sports HUB CEO Manu Sawhney had said in media interviews last November that top football teams could feature here this year.

“We are optimistic that we’ll be able to have some pleasant surprises for the community at large to come and experience events which have either never taken place at the Stadium, or have never come to Singapore before,” he told The Straits Times.

If the ICC does materialise, it could be the biggest-ever football tournament hosted in Singapore’s history.

The last world-class football event held here was the Barclays Asia Trophy in July 2015, which featured Arsenal, Everton and Stoke City.

In 2014, the Sports Hub had also hosted a match between Italian champions Juventus and a Singapore Selection, as well as a glamour international friendly between Brazil and Japan.

Bayern, who thrashed Arsenal 5-1 in their Champions League round of 16 first leg clash two days ago, will be the first Bundesliga team to visit Singapore since arch-rivals Borussia Dortmund stopped over for a training session two years ago.

The 26-time German champions are aiming to boost their presence in this part of the world and are likely to play English side Chelsea in Shanghai when they return to China this summer, according to German publication Bild.

Fans in China and Singapore will relish the possibility of watching the likes of Robert Lewandowski, Arjen Robben and Manuel Neuer in action, though the Bavarian side did not reveal any further details of their Asian tour.