INDIANAPOLIS – Add Indy Eleven to the list of teams that will NOT serve as the opponent of USL League Two side South Bend Lions FC for its inaugural game next month.
In a showing of Hoosier State soccer solidarity, the Eleven announced they would become the first American club to serve as a non-opponent for its inaugural exhibition match on Saturday, May 9.
“Indy Eleven couldn’t be happier to avoid squaring off against South Bend Lions FC,” said Indy Eleven Head Coach Martin Rennie. “We absolutely feel for their players, coaches, staff and fans, who were looking forward to the incredible emotion and celebration that are part of an inaugural game. Even though we cannot link up on the field, we’re proud to support South Bend’s efforts to grow the sport of soccer and the United Soccer League in Indiana and look forward to more collaboration in the future – including a proper match.”
South Bend was scheduled to play its first game in team history in League Two on May 9, but instead – in order to maintain social distancing guidelines and assist the nationwide effort to flatten the curve – the Lions will welcome honorary opponents for a unique “Uninaugural Game” event on that date. Indy Eleven joins York9 FC of the Canadian Premier League, Oxford United of the EFL League One and Visakha FC of the Cambodian League in supporting South Bend’s “non-game gameday” next weekend.
“We are grateful to our friends at Indy Eleven for agreeing to back our non-gameday initiative,” said Chris Rivett, South Bend Lions' Marketing and Communications Consultant. “While our plans have had to adapt, Indy Eleven has been the one constant in conversations around our opening game, and on this occasion, we now find ourselves looking forward to not facing them. We're excited to share the event with the supporters of Indy Eleven from a safe distance, as well as communities from outside of the state, and will do so in anticipation of the day when we can all come together in the same stadium.”
Instead of gathering at South Bend’s TCU Field on May 9, Lions FC and Indy Eleven instead encourage fans to stay home and take part in a virtual tailgate along with other official “non-opponents” to celebrate the spirit of the world’s most popular sport. Soccer fans can also show their support by going to SouthBendLions.com to purchase $1 “non-gameday tickets” that will benefit COVID-19 relief efforts in the South Bend area. Full details on Lions FC’s “Uninaugural Game” celebrations can be found at www.southbendlions.com.
Fans can find more ways to pass the time until the Indy Eleven takes to the field by visiting indyeleven.com/stayhomeindy, the online home for the latest content covering the Boys in Blue and ways you can support the club’s partners, including the ongoing Eleven Cares tee-shirt fundraiser benefiting Community Health Network’s frontline caregivers.