Soccer Comes To Citi Field
Soccer fans across the borough and the globe will soon come to Citi Field in Flushing to witness the historic inaugural soccer game between Ecuador and Greece. In a special preview at the home of the New York Mets, state Senator Michael Gianaris (D-Astoria) and Assemblymember Francisco Moya (D-Jackson Heights) came to represent the Greek and Ecuadorian communities respectively.
“It is amazing to think that just minutes away from Citi Field lives the city’s largest Greek community in Astoria and Long Island City and the city’s largest Ecuadorian community in Corona and Jackson Heights,” Gianaris said. “This is an opportunity for everyone to come together. There’s a lot of excitement about it.”
According to Mets officials more than 20,000 tickets for the June 7 match have been sold and it is expected to sellout by game time.
Greece, which ranks 12th in the world, will be coached by Fernando Santos. The team is at the top of its group in qualifying for the 2012 European Championship. Ecuador, which ranks 56th in the world, will be coached by Reinaldo Rueda.
“We’d like to do it on a regular basis. We’re going to try and fit in as many [games] as we can,” Executive Vice President of Business Operations for the Mets David Howard said. “The introduction of soccer is just another way that Citi Field can be used. This facility can be used from everything from major league sporting events to weddings and bar and bat-mitzvahs.”
Gianaris and Moya have already placed their predictions for the game and have even made a friendly wager. If Gianaris’ prediction of a 3-1 Greek victory is realized, Moya will receive a plate of baklava and if Moya’s prediction of a 2-0 win for Ecuador comes true Gianaris will receive a plate of empanadas.
Moya has vowed to use the potential success and popularity of next week’s game to bring a professional soccer stadium to Queens.
Because of their cultural backgrounds Gianaris, the first Greek- American elected to office from New York City and Moya, who is Ecuadorian-American, were made honorary team captains.
The preview event concluded with the presentation of official Greek and Ecuador team jerseys to Gianaris and Moya who then made their way to the outfield where a soccer goal had been set up. Gianaris and Moya then faced off as goalies against the cunning speed of Mr. Met.