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Phoenix soccer fans unite for Manchester victims

By - Jun 03, 2017

By Aaron Fischer for The Sporting Nation


PHOENIX -- Soccer fans across the Valley came together in support of the victims of the May 22 Manchester arena bombing at Tim Finnegan’s Irish Pub on Saturday for the UEFA Champions League final between Juventus and Real Madrid.
 
The pub, which is the official bar of the Manchester City Supporters Group in Phoenix, is teaming with Woodshed Sports Bar that represents Manchester United Football Club. They are becoming “a city united” and will be donating 20 percent of all proceeds from Saturday to the Manchester Red Cross.
 
A silent auction also took place and featured items that included a soccer ball signed by the entire team of Real Madrid, Phoenix Rising Football Club away kit signed by Omar Bravo and Phoenix Rising T-shirts. There were also $50 gift certificates from The Soccer Post, Pizzeria Bianco, The Rose & Crown Pub, La Piazza PHX, George & Dragon and The Kettle Black Kitchen & Pub. In addition, a 50-50 raffle was held with half the money raised going to the Manchester Red Cross and half going to the winner.
 
Jimmy Culleton owns the pub and is from Dublin, Ireland. He also is a Manchester City season ticket holder and a huge soccer fan.
 
“Manchester is very close to me because I’m from the area and go there often so I want to do something to help out,” Culleton said.    
 
Manchester City and Manchester United have a heated rivalry which dates all the way back to the late 1800s. Supporters of both clubs were able to put their disdain for each other to the side for a day to promote the fundraiser.
 
“Soccer is a community and no matter how much we yell at each other, today we become one and support our people,” said Christian Vasquez, a lifelong Manchester United supporter.
 
The atmosphere was electric when the match began as over 200 patrons packed the bar where the beer was flowing and a special food menu was served.
 
The match began with one of soccer’s biggest stars, Cristiano Ronaldo, scoring in the 20th minute.
 
Following Ronaldo’s goal, Juventus answered back with an emphatic bicycle kick goal by Mario Mandžukić. 
 
During halftime Culleton announced the winner of the 50-50 raffle was David Ellis. Without hesitation, Ellis donated his winnings back into the fundraiser.
 
“It’s one of those things at the end of the day we are supporting our friends and coming together for a good cause,” said Ellis who is a Manchester United fan and former Marine.
 
As the second half got underway, the entire pub was either standing or on the edge of their seat.
 
Juventus fans were stunned when a shot from 30 yards away by Casemiro deflected past goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon in the 61st minute. Ronaldo added his second goal of the game just three minutes later.
 
Marco Asensio scored in the 90th minute of the game making the final score 4-1, and Real Madrid champions of Europe for the 12th time.
 
Not everyone in attendance had emotions attached this game. Dona Cameron, 58, said she didn’t care who won or lost and that she “came to support the victims of the Manchester bombing.”
 
After the game Culleton revealed the winners of the silent auction items. He also said the event raised over $3,000 for the Manchester Red Cross.
 
“The event was a huge success,” said Culleton.

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