- Coverage part of ESPN’s multi-faceted commitment to Special Olympics Unified Sports®
- International soccer tournament will host 24 teams in Chicago
- Men’s and Women’s Finals to be televised live on Friday, July 20
The women’s and men’s final matches of the first-ever Special Olympics Unified Cup presented by Toyota will be televised live on ESPN2, Friday, July 20 from Chicago’s Toyota Park, beginning at 6 p.m. ET.
The Special Olympics Unified Cup will feature 24 soccer teams – 8 women’s and 16 men’s – representing countries from around the globe. The Unified Cup is part of the Special Olympics 50th Anniversary Celebration, taking place in Chicago from July 17-21.
ESPN’s coverage is part of its multi-faceted Global Presenting Sponsorship of Special Olympics Unified Sports®. Coverage will be hosted by ESPN’s Maria Taylor, with play-by-play commentator Sebastian Salazar and soccer analyst Kate Markgraf calling the action.
Special Olympics Unified Sports® joins people with and without intellectual disabilities on the same team, promoting social inclusion through shared sports training and competition. It was inspired by a simple principle: training together and playing together is a quick path to friendship and understanding. With support from ESPN and others, Special Olympics has grown this innovative and inclusive program to more than 1.6 million participants.
“Following our extensive coverage of the Special Olympics USA Games in Seattle last week, we’re looking forward to showcasing more outstanding athletes and telling their stories in Chicago,” said Russell Wolff, Executive Vice President and Managing Director, ESPN International. “The Unified Cup is a truly international soccer competition, and it’s a privilege to cover the Men’s and Women’s Finals as part of our support for Unified Sports and celebrate Special Olympics’ 50th Anniversary.”
In addition to airing in the U.S., ESPN’s coverage of the Unified Cup men’s and women’s finals will be available tens of millions more on ESPN television and digital platforms in Latin America, the Caribbean and Australia/NZ.
ESPN and Special Olympics
ESPN is proud of its relationship with Special Olympics, which spans more than 32 years. Over the past four years, ESPN has continued to deepen its relationship with the Special Olympics movement and in addition to being the Official Broadcaster for the 2018 Special Olympics USA Games in Seattle, it will also celebrate the 50th Anniversary of Special Olympics in the year ahead and will also be the Official Media Partner of the 2019 Special Olympics World Summer Games, hosted in Abu Dhabi.
ESPN and Special Olympics alliance uses the power of sports to promote social inclusion and acceptance through two pillars of the relationship: ESPN’s Global Presenting Sponsorship of Special Olympics Unified Sports® and a multi-year global programming agreement.
Dedicated to promoting social inclusion through shared sports training and competition experiences, Special Olympics Unified Sports joins people with and without intellectual disabilities on the same team. It was inspired by a simple principle: training together and playing together is a quick path to friendship and understanding. With support from ESPN and others, Special Olympics has grown this innovative and inclusive program to more than 1.6 million participants.
In the past few years, ESPN has invested over $3 million in cash and in-kind to support Special Olympics’ goal of building Unified Sports programming and resources in 10,000 schools, reaching 100,000 new or re-certified coaches and realizing 7 million acts of inclusion by 2020. Included in this investment was capacity-building resources for a new global cloud based CRM project, ongoing research to help Special Olympics establish a global inclusion index and integration with leagues such as MLS and NBA.
ESPN has been the Official Broadcaster of 2018 Special Olympics USA Games in Seattle, the 2017 Special Olympics World Winter Games in Austria and 2015 Special Olympics World Summer Games in Los Angeles. Additionally, ESPN employees have been engaged in volunteerism with Special Olympics for over 32 years. Over 200 ESPN and Disney employees volunteered at the USA Games in Seattle earlier this month.
ESPN believes that, at its very best, sports uplifts the human spirit. Its corporate citizenship programs use the power of sport to positively address society’s most pressing needs through strategic community investments, cause marketing programs, collaboration with sports organizations and employee volunteerism, while also utilizing its diverse media assets. For more information go to www.espn.com/citizenship.
— #ChooseToInclude —