Ligue 1 teams to play US exhibition tournament

Washington (AFP) –


Four teams from the French top-flight will play in an exhibition in the United States in July as part of Ligue 1's attempts to boost its international profile, league officials said on Monday.

Marseille, Saint-Etienne, Bordeaux and Montpellier will play in the tournament at Washington's Audi Stadium, home of Major League Soccer's DC United, between July 18-21.

Didier Quillot, chief executive of the Ligue de Football Professionnel (LFP), told a press conference the tournament provided a chance for French clubs and Ligue 1 to "promote their brand" in a strategic market.

"The goal is to develop Ligue 1 internationally, with the United States and China priority markets," Quillot said.

"We want to increase the reputation of the Ligue 1 brand, that of our championship and our clubs."

Quillot said Ligue 1 wanted to become one of the top three most valuable football leagues, in terms of international television rights, within five years.

"We have a very good product, with goals, stars like Neymar, (Kylian) Mbappe, (Mario) Balotelli, (Memphis) Depay," Quillot said.

"We're the number one country in the world at identifying, training and developing young players, but what we lack is the success in European club competitions," he added.

Two of the teams taking part in the tournament -- Marseille and Bordeaux -- are owned by US investors.

"Football is a sport but also an entertainment industry" Quillot said, adding that France was "the best country to invest in."

The quadrangular tournament will see Montpellier play Saint-Etienne and Marseille face Bordeaux on July 18, before the two winning sides face each other on July 21.