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UNC-Chapel Hill to Host its First European Soccer Match

Source: ABC 11

UNC-Chapel Hill’s Kenan Stadium has hosted some great football matches over the 95 years of its existence including some classic UNC vs N.C. State football games. The stadium will be hosting another type of football in July when historic soccer clubs Chelsea and Wrexham face off in a friendly preseason matchup. 

This is part of the 2023 FC Series which brings international soccer teams to play exhibition matches in the United States. The clash will take place Wednesday, July 19 at 7:30 pm. Soccer fans from all over will fill Kenan Stadium for this clash with tickets sold out for the matchup. The game is so big that Kenan Stadium has removed its football turf and replaced the field with natural grass for the matchup with European teams still playing on natural grass. The Town of Chapel Hill is advising residents and visitors to understand there will be major traffic delays. 

Getting into Chapel Hill is already a task during the work week. Now combine the work week rush hour with gameday traffic and you have a recipe for delays. Unlike a UNC football game, many of the attendees will be coming from outside of Chapel Hill. The town is advising folks to leave early as possible to avoid delays. Town officials advise visitors to take US 15-501 to Chapel Hill if you are attending the game and if you decide to use NC 54 you will be routed to US 15-501 and then onto Manning Drive. 

Businesses along Franklin Street and throughout Chapel Hill are excited about the economic impact of this match. Another issue visitors may face is parking. Carolina Athletics has advised attendees to purchase parking passes through their website ahead of the match as no parking sales will take place at lots. The prices for on-campus parking range from $40 to $80 with the town of Chapel Hill-operated lots starting at $20. There are rideshare and shuttle options if parking is not your jam. 

Now let’s take a look at the two teams facing off. 

Chelsea is a top-flight team playing out of London, England, in the biggest league in all of soccer, Barclays Premier League. This club has a large fanbase in the United States and globally. Chelsea has won all of the biggest trophies in European Soccer in its long history and recently was the team of United States superstar player (and World Cup hero) Christian Pulisic. He has since been transferred (traded in US terms) to AC Milian, another globally known soccer club in Italy. The team is coming off a disappointing 22/23 season in which they finished in 12th place out of 19 teams, relieved two head coaches and since revamped their whole roster. Lots of new faces will be in Chapel Hill representing this squad. 

You may know about the North Wales club Wrexham Association Football Club. The team is owned by American actors Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney and has a hit television series airing on FX. It’s worth noting that their show “Welcome to Wrexham” has been nominated for six Emmys, but this team is more than a television darling. 

The club capped off one of their best seasons ever all while TV cameras were rolling by nearly spending the whole season in or around first place in their 23-team division. The team won its league (5th level on the English Football Pyramid) and was promoted to the English Football League – League Two which is fourth tier on the English Football pyramid. Chelsea plays in the first-level league, just as a reminder. Since the success of the team and show, major sponsors want to do business with the club including TikTok, YouTube and most recently, the team being featured on the popular EA Sports video game FIFA 23. Chapel Hill is one of many stops for both teams this summer as both look to tour the country with matches and brand-building. 

Read more from ABC 11 here

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