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Diplomacy in Action

New York Cosmos' Initiative to Fuse International Exchanges Through Soccer

Joe Fraga, Executive Director, New York Cosmos
New York, NY
June 23, 2011

Date: 06/16/2011 Location: New York, NY Description: Joe Fraga, Executive Director, The New York Cosmos, briefs on the team's initiative to fuse international exchanges through soccer, with the Cosmos Copa tournament at the New York Foreign Press Center.  - State Dept Image

4:00 P.M. EDT


MODERATOR: Good afternoon. Welcome, everybody. I am Karen Newman. I’m with the New York Foreign Press Center. I’m delighted to welcome all of you here. I assume it’s the first time for many of you to be in our lovely new offices, so we’re really happy to have you here and I’m very pleased to introduce Joe Fraga, who’s going to talk to you today about the New York Cosmos Copa draw. So we’re very pleased and we welcome Joe. Thank you very much. (Applause.)

MR. FRAGA: Thank you, Karen. My name is Joe Fraga, Executive Director of the New York Cosmos, and on behalf of the New York Cosmos and the Cosmos Copa family, I want to thank all of you for attending our third annual tournament draw. I’d like to thank Umbro, Modell’s, Just Live Soccer, and FOSA USA for their involvement and support of this event and the tournament. We couldn't do it without you. And I especially would like to thank the Foreign Press Center for hosting us. This is a perfect setting for Cosmos Copa, as we’re all about bringing international communities together, and that’s been the core principle for our success.

Cosmos Copa started in 2009 as a way to create a community-based world cup where New York City’s diverse communities would come together to represent and express themselves through the universal sport of soccer, the beautiful game. The first Copa had 16 countries participate. This year, over 30 countries participated, which is a true testament to the quality of the tournament and to the hard work of the participating communities in getting the word out for us, and we thank you.

Today, we introduce to you the teams that made it past the qualifying round to enter 2011 Cosmos Copa Tournament, which kicks off on July 9th in Flushing Meadows, Corona Park, and Queens. When I mention your country’s name, if you could please raise your hand. The 16 teams this year are: Colombia (applause), Croatia (applause), Ecuador (applause), El Salvador (applause), England (applause), Greece (applause), Haiti (applause), Italy (applause), Ireland (applause), Ivory Coast (applause), Jamaica (applause), Kosovo (applause), Mexico (applause), Poland (applause), Senegal (applause), Trinidad and Tobago (applause). Congratulations.

I’d like to take this time to actually – to thank all the teams that have participated this year. The competition level was extremely high and the passion that was left on the pitch this past weekend is worth acknowledgement. So any of the other countries that are here that participated in the last week’s tournament, I thank you as well. (Applause.) And we look forward to you returning next year to become an NYC team.

Now I’ll turn it over to Tommy Smyth, with a y – is that your tag – ESPN’s soccer analyst, longtime friend, and fan of Cosmos Copa since day one. Thank you, Tommy. (Applause.)

MR. SMYTH: Good afternoon, everybody. It’s a pleasure to be back here with you again. Three years ago, I got a call on a Monday from a fellow called Doc, and he said, “Ireland have a team in the Cup.” He said, “Do you want to be part of it?” And it was one of the best decisions I made. Like a lot more of you in this room, I’ve gotten so much fun and enjoyment out of being involved with Spencer and Chris. I had no idea at that point in time what I was getting myself involved in, but believe me, after spending the past two years watching Copa, I now understand what I’m involved in.

What we have here, ladies and gentlemen, is we have a treasure. We have a treasure of a competition that so many people would love to have. If you don’t believe me, go to any of the grounds on a Tuesday or a Thursday night, watch Ireland train with Kevin, watch any of the teams train, and you get the feeling of how important this competition is. It’s a rare opportunity that we can pass down to some of our young me who have come to this country and never had a chance to play with their national team in our native countries. They are getting an opportunity here to wear the country’s jersey in the biggest and – in my opinion – the best city in the world. It just does not get any better than playing for your national team in New York City. I mean, you would like every team to win this, but unfortunately there can only be one winner.

I am really excited about the beginning of the Copa, starting on July 9th. I know, judging from the last couple of years, the caliber of play we have seen has been incredible. We have seen this tournament not just the way kids crawl along. This tournament has bounded from where it started to where it is now. It has become one of the most coveted tournaments, not just in this city, folks, but in the whole country. There’s an awareness of what this competition is about and there’s an awareness about what it takes to win this competition. And I have a feeling, just looking around the room and just listening to some of the stories, I think that this year’s competition is going to be very difficult to win. And I know that the team that deserves it in the end – my mom always said the cream always rises to the top, and that’s exactly what we have here.

There’s a few little things that I would like you to be aware of, and that is if you cannot attend the championship game on July 24th, just log on to and you will find out that there will be a broadcast of it and it will be worth watching. I just can’t say enough of how much I have enjoyed being part of it. I see so many familiar faces around the room again this year, but I’m also delighted that we have new faces in the room, we have new teams in the competition, which shows that the competition continues to grow. And in my opinion, under the leadership of the competition, the way it is now, this is going to be the premier club competition maybe in the world, but definitely in the United States. And there are two gentlemen now that I am going to hand the proceedings over to, two of the gentlemen who were the starters of it; Spencer Dormitzer and Chris Noble are over here. Give them a nice round of applause, folks. (Applause.)

You did not come here to listen to me B.S. all day. You came here to find out who you’re going to play on July 9th, and I would be very remiss if I didn’t say a big thank you to the FPC for allowing us this fantastic facility. I mean, here I am again a second time. Who would ever believe that Tommy Smyth would get a chance to speak near the UN? Are you kidding me or something? (Laughter.) Just read the internet. (Applause.)

Okay. It’s going to be a very simple procedure here, so strap yourselves in. We are going to draw Group A. The procedure is a first seed, a second seed, and two qualifiers. A first seed, a second seed, and two qualifiers. And Spencer is going to pull the first seed out.



MR. SMYTH: Group A. Here we go, boys. Get your pens ready – and girls, too.

Okay, the first team out of the draw this year in Group A: Jamaica, the Reggae Boys. (Applause.) Chris is going to put it on there.

Now, Spencer, second seed. Shuffle them up a while. And I guarantee you there are no uneven balls or there are no hot balls or whatever. They’re all legit. They’re coming out. The most honest man in the world. Look at that man’s face. (Laughter.)

Okay. Ecuador. (Applause.)

Now we move on to the two qualifiers. Pull them one at a time, please. Senegal. (Applause.) Shaping up well already, folks. (Laughter.)

And the second qualifier, Trinidad and Tobago. (Applause.) Okay, that’s that four.

MR. DORMITZER: (Inaudible) group. It’s going to be four groups of death. Group of death number one.

MR. SMYTH: Group of death comes out first. We’ll see. (Laughter.)

MR. DORMITZER: It’s group of death number one.

MR. SMYTH: We’ll see. It’s group of death number one, Spencer said. Okay, back to the first seed again.

We want one more first seed now, Spencer.

MR. DORMITZER: All right, Group B.

MR. SMYTH: This is Group B. Sorry. Haiti. (Applause.)

This is Group B. Second seed, Spencer, please. England. (Applause.)

And now we’re on to the qualifiers. This is Group B. El Salvador. (Applause.) And one more qualifier. We’re rushing you, Chris. Sorry.

MR. NOBLE: Just (inaudible) them all.

MR. SMYTH: Kosovo. (Applause.) Group of death two. (Laughter.) So in that group we have, if I’m correct, Haiti, England, El Salvador, and Kosovo. That’s Group B.

MR. DORMITZER: Group C coming up.

MR. SMYTH: Group C coming up. We’ll let you mind them, Joe.


MR. FRAGA: Thank you.

MR. SMYTH: Group C. Poland. (Applause.) Mexico. (Applause.) And now two more qualifiers. Ivory Coast. (Applause.) And Croatia. (Applause.) So now that group is Poland, Mexico, Ivory Coast, and Croatia.

I know Ireland’s in here somewhere. I’m sure they are, folks. Believe me, I know Ireland’s in here. I’m just going to go out on a limb and say that Ireland are in here somewhere.

Ireland. (Applause.) This is Group D, right?

MR. DORMITZER: It’s Group D, last group.

MR. NOBLE: Last group.

MR. SMYTH: Okay, last group. Greece. (Applause.) Colombia. (Applause.)

MR. DORMITZER: If it’s Italy, it’s a tough one.

MR. SMYTH: Italy. (Applause.) Group of death number four: Ireland, Greece, Colombia, and Italy. So you can see I definitely didn’t fix the draw. If I had, Ireland wouldn't be with this group. (Laughter.)

There we go.

MR. DORMITZER: There it is.

MR. SMYTH: There it is, folks. You have it right there. (Applause.) We are looking forward to seeing you on July 9th and, of course, the big one, the final, that’s the one we want to see who’s going to be there. Ladies and gentlemen, I’d just ask you, like I did before, this is your tournament, this is your community’s tournament. It’s free. It doesn't cost anything. You get a chance to see, hopefully, some young players who are going to make a real name for themselves. Please bring the word back to your communities, please get your community involved, and please bring as many people as you can to the games. We have no charge. You get to see the beautiful game free in a beautiful setting in Flushing Meadows. It’s a fantastic place to be.

And now I’m going to hand it back to Joe. Thank you very much, ladies and gentlemen. (Applause.)

MR. FRAGA: Thank you, Tommy. We’re now going to open the floor up for questions, and afterwards you can come up and take photos – each team, you can come up and take photos on the stage and in front of the board as well.

MODERATOR: Hello. Can you say your name and your affiliation when you have a question as well? Anybody have a question?

MR. FRAGA: No questions, perfect.

QUESTION: Who’s going to win?

QUESTION: Croatia. Yeah. Robert form Croatia. How are you doing, Joe?

MR. FRAGA: How are you?

QUESTION: But I see people writing down is the second team drawn out of the group was the fourth team in the – do you know what I’m saying? I’m saying you’ve got one 1D against 4D. The second seeded team was four, right?

MR. FRAGA: Yeah. Hold on, we have a technical question here so --

MR. DORMITZER: The second seeded team was the quarter-final team from last year.

QUESTION: No, no. I understand that, but when people write it down, 1, 2, 3, 4, the way you drew them, actually the second team drawn --

MR. DORMITZER: Is four (inaudible).

QUESTION: Yeah. So a lot of people are going to be confused as they wrote them down, as they went down, you know what I’m saying?

MR. SMYTH: Well, we’ll have everything in order (inaudible) Wednesday.

QUESTION: Is there a official list? That’s my question. Is there an official list?

MR. FRAGA: Yeah. There’ll be an official list. Yeah. And it’ll be up on line. Yeah.

MR. DORMITZER: (Inaudible.) If you follow this, you put the names down (inaudible).

MR. FRAGA: Yeah. We’ll fix it.

QUESTION: Hello. Tom Deptula from the Polish Newsweek. Excuse me. I’d like to ask how this tournament will be played. And I heard that group matches will be played on one day. Why you want to do that? It may be a killer for players playing three games during a hot day on the turf. So do you think about health of --

MR. FRAGA: Yes. We do.

QUESTION: -- your players?

MR. FRAGA: Yes. We do. Part of the beauty of a grassroots soccer tournament is we have a relationship with the city and they’ve been amazing with us, but unfortunately in New York City there isn’t enough soccer fields to play everything on, so part of the parameter we have to work within is the availability of fields. Some of the weekends are two days, some of the weekends are one day, and that boils down to the space that we have. We kept it all in one area for the tournament because we felt that that was the easiest for the players, for the fans, and for everyone else who’s involved with the tournament.

Obviously, our qualifiers last weekend, for instance, was over two days in two different boroughs. So we do take that into account. And last year, we were able to spread it out only because it was two weekends. But as we grow, we’re going to have to make adjustments, and for our players that one – that first day is going to be a long day. So the same thing with the staff, but it’s the best we can do with what we have.

MR. DORMITZER: And each match is one hour long and there’s an hour break in between.

MR. FRAGA: Yeah. So every team has an hour break between each match.

QUESTION: (Off-mike.) (Laughter.)

QUESTION: Good afternoon. (Inaudible) from Team Senegal. My question is that is there going to be a chance to re-update the roster just in case that since – or the roster will be kept the same from qualifying to actually the tournament itself?

MR. FRAGA: Yeah. Well, the rules are all listed on the website and we also had meetings with each individual president. I believe the ruling is that the roster that’s been submitted – the reason why you have 22 players is because of the length of the tournament, so that’s the roster that we have to keep. I don’t believe there’s any inclusion of new players. Once you submit that roster, that’s your final roster for the tournament.

QUESTION: Good evening, everybody. My name is (inaudible), I’m on the El Salvador team. I have a question about – I never had 22 players in the roster game. I think we still have one more player to add if we have to. I don’t know if we are allowed to do it or not.

MR. FRAGA: That roster that was submitted, that’s your final roster, but we can speak to you afterwards. That’s a detail we have to discuss.

QUESTION: Okay. Yeah, because so far right now, only we had 21.

MR. FRAGA: Okay. Well, I believe whatever you submitted by the deadline is what you have. It’s not our responsibility to fill the rosters.

QUESTION: No, yeah. I just have a question if you would add (inaudible) --

MR. FRAGA: Yeah. There’s no – that once you submit the roster that’s the final roster.

QUESTION: All right. Thank you.

MR. FRAGA: I think we have Colombia.

QUESTION: Guillermo (inaudible), University of Colombia. My question is the points of the yellow cards and red cards for the qualifying weekend, they’re still up or we get – they cross them over and start again?

MR. FRAGA: Really --

MR. DORMITZER: Any red cards that happened during the qualifying weekend, we’ll carry over into the group stage.

QUESTION: Okay. But my question is the points. Remember, it’s a 15 point – yellow card is one point, red card is three points.

MR. DORMITZER: That’s a detail we can discuss in – between every game. I don’t think every single person wants to know our point differentials and the rankings and all that, but we’ll definitely discuss that in private.

QUESTION: Okay. No problem.

MR. DORMITZER: But you – any red card that happened on the last game of the qualifying will carry over into the first game of the tournament.

QUESTION: And there’s only one game suspension or --


QUESTION: Okay. Thank you.

MR. FRAGA: Just a quick question. Does anyone from the media have any questions before we get into other team business?

QUESTION: I’ve got one more question.

MR. FRAGA: Sure.

QUESTION: Who is going to orchestrate this tournament? Do you have an international crew to orchestrate it?

MR. FRAGA: The officials are – actually we have – we work with Just Live Soccer, and they’re in charge of all the tournament logistics so they get all the qualified referees. They’re all state certified and come from the tri-state area, so we have regular officials. But the reality is it doesn’t matter where they’re from, you’re always going to get complaints about the referees. We already know that. (Laughter.)

QUESTION: I – I (inaudible).

MR. FRAGA: Okay, so you know.

QUESTION: I know he’s playing. (Laughter.)

MR. FRAGA: You know the drill. Sir.

QUESTION: I’m wondering if all the players are U.S. citizens?

MR. FRAGA: Excuse me?

QUESTION: Are all the players U.S. citizens?

MR. FRAGA: Each team has – the way that the roster works is that you can represent your country. There are people from the United States with the heritage that play for the team, and then there are players from the country that they represent, so it’s a mix. In some cases, the whole team is from the country; in other cases it’s a mix.


MR. FRAGA: But they’re all from the country that they represent.

QUESTION: I have one last question. Colombia, again, the only thing we’re asking for is in the – are the referees trying not to be from the same country that they are playing?

MR. FRAGA: Okay. Again -- (laugher.)

QUESTION: Because it goes for – because it’s going to be part – it’s going to be --

MR. FRAGA: (Inaudible.)

QUESTION: -- trying not to put a Colombian referee refereeing Colombia and Italy.

MR. FRAGA: That – yes. We understand.

QUESTION: I mean, that’s --

MR. FRAGA: That’s a technical issue that we’ll take in mind.

QUESTION: Yes. But you say you have one company to do it.

MR. FRAGA: Correct.

QUESTION: Just, please, ask them – try not to do that. Thank you.

MR. FRAGA: It’s something that we’re aware of and we try to make happen. Any other media questions before I go to team questions?

QUESTION: Actually, this question’s for Tommy.


QUESTION: Chris Belac, New York Times Goal Blog. Do you have any predictions on the tournament? I don’t want to put you on the spot, but --

MR. DORMITZER: Apparently. (Laughter.)

MR. SMYTH: Well, there’s a team that wears a green jersey. They’re managed by a fellow called Kevin Grogan. I forget where they come from. They’re some place in Europe. They’re a small little country. (Laughter.) But we’ve gotten to the final – the first time we got to the semi-final last year, and I think the third time is the charm. And we have a good manager Kevin, and I think Ireland’s going to win it, but the best of luck to everybody. I’m not being prejudiced, guys. (Laughter.) Don’t I look honest? (Laughter.)

MR. FRAGA: (Applause.) Look who’s clapping. (Laughter.)

MR. SMYTH: At least she clapped.

MR. DORMITZER: She’s not prejudiced either.


QUESTION: Hi, excuse me. This is Robert Poredos, the Slovenian Press Agency. I was just wondering how does one go about to be a part of this tournament? Do you contact somebody from the country or somebody contact you?

MR. FRAGA: Well, there’s two processes. If – for a team to enter the tournament, if you go on our website it will show you the whole process. But just to run through it, there’s a contact. One of the things that we try to do is get into the communities and have the communities run the teams. We don’t want to tell you how to run your teams. So we put it out there that there’s this tournament, and then the communities that engage and are self-motivated are the ones who come back to us with the rosters. There’s an official meeting in our office with the people or multiple people who want to work within that community, and then we let those people in the communities decide who’s going to be the point person. And then we have a whole process that the team submits and then you’re accepted and then you become part of the whole system and then we play the tournament.

QUESTION: Okay. Just bear with me one more.

MR. FRAGA: Sure.

QUESTION: Are there any limitation about the players, about the age or the – I mean, are they professionals or amateurs? I mean, (inaudible) --

MR. FRAGA: No. I mean, the age group, I think, traditionally, it’s been the 18 and over.

MR. DORMITZER: It’s still 18 and over.

MR. FRAGA: Still 18 and over, but we had last year – we had, I think, a 41-year-old playing out there and --

QUESTION: That’s all there.

MR. FRAGA: So it’s open – it’s an open adult tournament. It wasn’t me. Any other media question? If there are any other team questions, we can meet in the corner there and discuss them. But if there aren’t any other media questions – I just want to thank Karen again and the U.S. State Department and the UN Mission to the U.S. for hosting us. (Applause.) And thank Tommy, again. (Applause.) You’re allowed to bring that (inaudible).

All right. Well, good luck, everyone. And we’ll see you next year for another draw. Thank you. (Applause.)

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