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Global May 17, 2016

Capital Soccer Classic brings the beautiful game to U.S. Congress

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Congress is not known for its productivity in presidential election years. But on Tuesday night politicians and aides from both sides of the aisle will get together to play a bipartisan night of soccer at RFK Stadium – with the help of diplomats and a few big-name ringers.

Capital_Soccer_Classic logoThe U.S. Soccer Foundation’s Capital Soccer Classic has matched U.S. soccer celebrities and soccer-aware members of Congress for a good cause – and to good effect – every April since 2013, and on Tuesday evening the event’s fourth edition unfolds at RFK Stadium.

Over the years retired stars like Jurgen Klinsmann, Cobi Jones, Cindy Parlow Cone, Claudio Reyna, Eddie Pope, Lori Lindsey, Ben Olsen and Ethan Zohn have joined members of the Congressional Soccer Caucus for a “Democrats vs. Republicans” game, the headliner of an event that also includes small-sided tournaments for Congressional staffers and international embassy personnel. The whole occasion is a fundraiser for the foundation’s programs for underserved youth like Soccer For Success, Passback and Safe Places to Play.

The event is free to attend, though donations are sought and welcomed from a high-powered list of corporate sponsors as well as the general public. More generally, it’s also grown into a fun annual opportunity for the beautiful game – a sport which has been memorably maligned in the nation’s halls of power in years past – to connect with some of the country’s most influential politicians.

“If we have politicians paying attention, falling in love with the game, seeing the passion that people have for the game, they’re going to realize that not only is it about the sport – this is about establishing international ties, this is about helping younger kids,” Jones told at the inaugural Capital Soccer Classic.

“Soccer is life.”

Retired-US-legends-Eddie-Pope-and-Claudio-Reyna-at-CSCThose like Jack Kemp who put stock in hoary stereotypes about soccer being a “European socialist sport” should note that the Republican team won in 2015 – though a dramatic penalty-kick shootout was required. (Maryland Democrat Chris Van Hollen probably did his side no favors by taking a spot kick in his work clothes and wingtips.)

Tuesday’s festivities get underway with the Embassy Tournament at 5 p.m. ET, and the Congressional game is scheduled for 6:30 p.m., with the Staffer Tournament to follow. Those interested in making a donation can do so here.