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Campeones Cup latest venture to unite Liga MX with Major League Soccer

Campeones Cup latest venture to unite Liga MX with Major League Soccer
From ESPN - March 13, 2018

Rumors about MLS and Liga MX formalizing some kind of alliance have rumbled for the last few years. The big questions revolved around when it would happen and what that partnership would look like.

On Tuesday, those questions got answers after an announcement that confirmed a Campeones Cup next September between the MLS champions and the Liga MX's Campeon de Campeones, as well as a commitment to a future MLS All-Stars vs. Liga MX All-Stars game and collaboration on business practices and social responsibility.

Two neighboring and rival leagues coming together in the highly-competitive world of soccer is not exactly the norm, but this appears to be the start of something more entrenched between Liga MX and MLS.

ESPN FC spoke to MLS Commissioner Don Garber and Liga MX president Enrique Bonilla to discuss the strategic partnership, its significance and the future.

Tom Marshall: What value does working with each other add to each respective league?

Enrique Bonilla: In this global world we have to work together if we want to succeed, if we want to get better, and that's what we are doing with this announcement. We recognize that each of us have different strengths and we have to put them together so we can grow and so we can have better football so we can compete with the rest of the world. Above all, [we want to] give a better show to our fans, that's our key goal.

Don Garber: This is just a great opportunity to join forces with a long-term vision to help grow the sport in North America in ways that will benefit our fans, our respective clubs and will elevate the popularity of the game throughout North America. It fits right in with what our respective federations are trying to do to bring the World Cup here in 2026 and provides each of us with the ability to harness the power of our respective leagues and clubs.

TM: How important is the Liga MX vs. MLS on-field rivalry to the growth of the game in North America?

DG: It's really important. We have been working hard for many years to elevate the game and in many ways we have been doing it in an insular way where we are just competing against ourselves. In order for us to really grow and test ourselves in a broader way, we have got to be competitive against Mexico. It's a very established league, it's a very competitive one.

Liga MX has done a great job in raising the bar and our teams are getting better and are seeing more success than they had in years past, but until we are able to be very competitive in the Champions League and different programs that we are going to work on with our partnership then we would not have achieved our goals.

Our goal is to be working with Mexico to have our part of the world attract the attention of the rest of the football-playing world. It should not just be about Europe or South America; it should be about North America, also. CONCACAF is doing great things to help achieve that, and now the two big leagues in CONCACAF are going to work together to try to achieve that as well.

TM: There have been a lot of rumors about a potential cup competition between Liga MX and MLS clubs; is that still on the table?

EB: There are a lot of plans on the table that we are working together on, but we have to go step-by-step and walk firmly before we start running. This first step is huge and afterwards there will be lots of good news for all football fans on our continent.

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