Clint Dempsey, Chris Paul-backed event features $1 million prize | Image Credit: TBT Enterprises
CARY, N.C. – TBT Enterprises, known for The Basketball Tournament (TBT), today announced the addition of The Soccer Tournament (TST), bringing its high stakes, winner-take-all $1 million format to the world’s most popular game. The inaugural TST event will take place over four days in June 2023 at WakeMed Soccer Park in Cary, N.C.
TST aims to become the defining world championship for 7v7 soccer, attracting the most competitive soccer players in the world to an annual, highly intense format that follows the World Cup structure, pinning 32 teams against each other in group play before moving into the knockout stages. TST’s first two teams will be Team Dempsey, entered by National Soccer Hall of Fame inductee Clint Dempsey, and popular British football and esports club Hashtag United.
“TST is an opportunity for players to show what they’ve got,” former United States Men’s National Team star Clint Dempsey said. “I came from the pickup culture, and we’ll be on the search for unproven talent that may have been overlooked by the American soccer system. Don’t sleep on Team Dempsey, we’re coming to win.”
“We’ve experienced a lot in our 7-year history, including FA Cup runs and league championships, but nothing like TST,” said Spencer Owen, founder of Hashtag United. “We firmly believe playing in this tournament means being at the front and center of an exciting evolution in football/soccer that pushes boundaries in an attempt to maximize entertainment for both the player and the viewer. We can’t wait for next summer!”
After establishing TBT Enterprises in 2014, the company’s founder and CEO Jon Mugar has grown the brand and its trademark basketball event tremendously over the past nine years, all while creating a model that has become replicable across other major sports. Now, Mugar, co-founder Dan Friel, and co-owner Chris Paul will be expanding The Tournament’s reach to soccer.
“What drew me to the ownership group is their commitment to creating a great tournament where every minute of every game is meaningful,” said Phoenix Suns guard and TBT and TST co-owner Chris Paul. “The model breeds intense competition and is built for success beyond just basketball. That’s why I’m so excited to be part of the team as we launch TST, and why I expect it to have as much of an impact on the sport of soccer as TBT has had on basketball.”
“We are excited to birth a new event in TST,” said TBT and TST founder and CEO Jon Mugar. “Our model has always been about open access for all, something European soccer embraces through promotion/relegation and events like the FA Cup. We think that model is fantastic for fans. As we have seen with TBT, it attracts dreamers who are passionate about sport. We’re lucky to have been approached by a group of such soccer dreamers that understand the game, our model, and the opportunity with seven on seven.”
In building The Soccer Tournament, Mugar partnered with former soccer stars Michael Volk, Henry Tembon, and Alecko Eskandarian. Volk and Tembon reached out to Mugar in 2020 with the idea of bringing TBT’s model to 7v7 soccer. The two met in 2008 on the University of Virginia soccer team, a squad that would later be crowned NCAA Division I Champions. Tembon went on to finish his collegiate career at Georgetown, and Volk spent one season in the MLS after graduating from Virginia. Eskandarian, regarded as one of the all-time great UVA soccer players, enjoyed a successful eight-year professional career. Following his retirement, Eskandarian returned to his alma mater in 2010 as an assistant coach, where he met Volk.
Keeping many of the same features that has made TBT one of the most electrifying sporting events of the summer, TST will also present the winning team with a $1 million prize at the conclusion of the tournament. In addition, TST will showcase modified rules and regulations, all of which are in place to promote and reinforce the importance of team-oriented, high-intensity action.
As seen with TBT’s Elam Ending®, the alternative ending to basketball games that has now been adopted by the NBA All-Star Game, the G League, and leagues around the world, The Soccer Tournament will feature Target Score Time, its own unique finish to competitions where all games end on a goal.
“We have been busy testing our rules,” said TST co-founder Mike Volk. “Fans can expect an hour of highly skilled, electrifying, attacking football. So far, we are averaging over forty shots on goal per game, though it’s impossible to project exactly what will happen once there is a million dollars on the line. One thing is certain: players love seven on seven soccer for its action, flow and skill, and we believe fans will too.”
TST will feature an open-entry process, allowing any team or group of players in the world to compete in the inaugural event. For more information, visit TheTournament.com.