April 18, 2019
  • Rakuten, Inc.

Rakuten Announces “Rakuten Cup”

-FC Barcelona, Vissel Kobe and Chelsea FC matches planned for summer 2019 in Japan - Matchup planned between FC Barcelona stars and former teammates Andrés Iniesta, David Villa and Sergi Samper

Tokyo, April 18, 2019 - Rakuten, Inc. today announced the “Rakuten Cup Supported by SCALP-D,” an international club soccer tournament in which Spanish La Liga club FC Barcelona, J.League J1 club Vissel Kobe and English Premier League club Chelsea FC will compete in matches in Japan. The tournament will be held in July 2019, with matches in Tokyo and Kobe.

The Rakuten Cup will see a match between FC Barcelona and Chelsea FC on July 23 at Saitama Stadium 2002 in the Greater Tokyo Area, and FC Barcelona and Vissel Kobe on July 27 at Noevir Stadium Kobe, the home ground of Vissel Kobe in western Japan. The matches will aim to pitch 25-time La Liga champions FC Barcelona against 6-time English league champions Chelsea FC, as well as former Barça teammates Andrés Iniesta, David Villa and new signing Sergi Samper of Vissel Kobe.

The Rakuten Cup will be a historic event with world-class soccer clubs FC Barcelona and Chelsea FC playing against each other in Japan.

The Rakuten Cup Supported by SCALP-D will be supported by other marketing and merchandising partners. Information about the Rakuten Cup will be published on the official website of the tournament. Both matches are planned to be distributed in Japan and around the world by Rakuten and other regional partners. Ticket presales via ticket lottery will begin on April 19, and information on the ticket sales will be published on the dedicated Rakuten Cup ticket page on Rakuten Ticket at the following site: http://r-t.jp/rakutencup2019

The announcement of the Rakuten Cup was made at a press conference today in Tokyo joined by Technical Secretary and former player of FC Barcelona, Éric Abidal. Abidal joined Barça in the 2007-08 season and in the following year he was a key part of the team that achieved the first treble in the club's history, and featured in the season in which the club won an unforgettable six trophies in 2009.

“We are incredibly proud to bring these two legendary clubs to Japan,” said Mickey Mikitani, chairman and CEO of Rakuten, Inc. “The Rakuten Cup will give Vissel Kobe the chance to play against FC Barcelona, one of the leading clubs in European soccer, and fans in Japan the opportunity to see some of the world’s top soccer clubs in action. We hope the games will raise the technical level and global profile of Japanese soccer, and we are excited about inspiring the next generation of young talent.”

Éric Abidal of FC Barcelona said, “Our partnership with Rakuten is one based on shared values of optimism, empowerment, respect and teamwork. We say that we are ‘mes que un club,’ ‘more than a Club,’ and this is more than just a partnership. This summer Rakuten will help us to bring the FC Barcelona First Team to Japan and play two special games, against Chelsea FC and Vissel Kobe. We’ve had some fantastic battles against Chelsea in recent years and we’re looking forward to playing them again in Tokyo. As for Vissel, the match will be very special for us as there are three players who are now in Kobe, but who have been part of the Barça family: Sergi Samper, David Villa and Andres Iniesta. We’re excited to bring our unique style of play to our fanbase in Japan.”

“We are incredibly excited to announce this match against Barcelona and our participation in the Rakuten Cup, which promises to be an exciting showcase for Japanese football fans,” commented Chelsea FC Chairman Bruce Buck. “It is a huge honour for Chelsea to play in this historic game, and we would like to thank Rakuten for its role as special sponsor of the matches and the J. League for hosting them. I am sure it will be a fantastic experience and we anticipate a great contest against Barcelona, with whom we have enjoyed a healthy and competitive rivalry in recent years.”

Background of the teams and Rakuten partnerships

Established in 1899, FC Barcelona is one of the world's leading football clubs, based in Barcelona. The club has won the Spanish professional football league, La Liga, 25 times and the UEFA Champions League five times. Known affectionately as Barça, the club is owned by an association of some 145,000 members. The tournament will be the club’s first visit to Japan since 2015, where it competed in the 2015 FIFA Club World Cup.

Rakuten and FC Barcelona’s partnership began in July 2017, when Rakuten became the Main Global Partner and first-ever Global Innovation & Entertainment Partner of FC Barcelona. The partnership is based on shared values of optimism, professionalism and commitment to empowering local communities. Rakuten and FC Barcelona are collaborating on a variety of initiatives leveraging Rakuten’s technologies and broad range of services to provide innovative solutions and services to fans, members and players of the club. Rakuten is also a partner of the Barça Academy, the flagship FC Barcelona soccer school with branches in more than 20 countries around the world, four of which are in Japan. Through the initiative, Rakuten and Barça hope to empower, inspire and fulfill the dreams of young soccer players.

Vissel Kobe is a J.League J1 soccer club based in Kobe City, Hyogo Prefecture, Japan and has been part of the Rakuten Group since 2015. Founded in the city in 1995, the Vissel Kobe's goal is to become “the No.1 club in Asia.” The club name “Vissel” comes from the English words “victory” and “vessel,” and represent Kobe’s history as an international harbor and the promise of the club to carry the hopes of the people of the city to victory. With its mission to contribute to local society through soccer, improve the quality of soccer in the region and create a sports club that the city can be proud of, Vissel Kobe aims to bring happiness to all those involved with the club.

As the home to former FC Barcelona players Andrés Iniesta, David Villa and Sergi Samper, as well as former German national squad player Lukas Podolski and Japanese national squad players Hotaru Yamaguchi and Daigo Nishi, the match against FC Barcelona will be a memorable one.

Chelsea Football Club is one of the world’s top football clubs, winning the UEFA Champions League in 2012 and following that success by lifting the UEFA Europa League trophy in 2013. Founded in 1905, Chelsea is London’s most central football club, based at the iconic 41,000-capacity Stamford Bridge stadium. Nicknamed “The Blues,” the club has won five Premier League titles and also lifted the FA Cup eight times, the Football League Cup five times, the UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup twice, the UEFA Super Cup once and the Football League Championship once, in 1955. The Europa League triumph saw Chelsea become the first English club to win all three major UEFA competitions, and the first club ever to hold both the Champions League and Europa League at the same time.

In addition to possessing some of the world’s most recognizable players, Chelsea has also invested in its future with a state-of-the-art Academy and training center in Cobham, Surrey. Since its opening in 2007, the club has won seven FA Youth Cups, back-to-back UEFA Youth League titles in 2015 and 2016, and U18 Premier League national championships in 2017 and 2018. The Chelsea Ladies team also won the FA Women’s Super League and FA Women’s Cup double in 2015 and 2018. The Chelsea Foundation also boasts one of the most extensive community initiatives in sport, helping to improve the lives of children and young people all over the world. During the 2016/17 season, the Foundation engaged with 1.3m participants on its programs in 19 countries.

About Rakuten

Rakuten, Inc. (TSE: 4755) is a global leader in internet services that empower individuals, communities, businesses and society. Founded in Tokyo in 1997 as an online marketplace, Rakuten has expanded to offer services in e-commerce, fintech, digital content and communications to more than 1.2 billion members around the world. The Rakuten Group has over 17,000 employees, and operations in 30 countries and regions. For more information visit https://global.rakuten.com/corp/.


*Please note that the information contained in press releases is current as of the date of release.

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