History of the World Collegiate Soccer Championships (WCSC)

In 1983, the City of El Paso sponsored an exciting international competition, the El Paso/Juarez International Games, featuring athletes from the United States and Mexico competing in 26 different events.  As part of that event, the United States’ men’s national soccer team faced off against the Selection National De Mexico team.  Held in Juarez, Mexico, this historic contest featured the first ever defeat of a Mexican soccer team by one from the United States.  The contest was truly memorable as the United States team triumphed by the narrowest of margins, 1- 0, before 20,000 rabid soccer fans.

That sent a buzz throughout the world and prompted veteran sports promoter Robert Azar, executive director of the El Paso/Juarez International Games, to recognize that interest in soccer was expanding exponentially. Inspired by these developments, Azar conceived the International Collegiate Soccer Championships to showcase the fertile soccer talent pool being nurtured in colleges around the globe.

Under Azar’s expert hand, the 1st International Collegiate Soccer Championship (ICSC) was held in 1984.  Representing the United States in the inaugural event were the Indiana University Hoosiers, the National Collegiate Athletic Association Champions.  The Hoosiers lost to Mexico’s national champion, the Univ. De Mexico Pumas, before 5,000 plus fans at the Benito Juarez Stadium in Juarez, Mexico.

The following year, the ICSC moved to New Mexico State University’s Aggie Memorial Stadium in Las Cruces, New Mexico.  The United States evened the series when the Clemson University Tigers defeated the Mexican champion, the Univ. De Mexico Pumas, 5-3 before 6,100 fans. That was an amazing turnout given the population of Las Cruces at the time was only 60,000.

Interest in this event spiked dramatically for the third annual contest.  More than 11,000 fans watched the NCAA national champions UCLA Bruins defeat the Mexican champion, Univ. de Tamaulipas, 3-1.  The event set a record for the largest crowd to witness a collegiate soccer event in the United States.

The success of the 1986 event prompted promoters to expand from a one game to a four team tournament.  Representing the United States were champions from both the NCAA and the rival National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA). In addition to the continuing to include of the Mexican collegiate champion, the collegiate champion from the Republic of Ireland was added to round out the tournament to four teams from three countries.

Nearly 14,000 soccer fans watched the University College-Dublin defeat the NAIA champions, Sangamon State University, 1-0, in the fourth annual event, now called the World Collegiate Soccer Championship™ (WCSC).

This April 1987 competition once again attracted one of the largest crowds in collegiate soccer history.  Played at Aggie Memorial Stadium in Las Cruces, New Mexico, the combined two day attendance exceeded over 19,000.  This event also was the first time that NAIA Division 1 champion has ever been paired against the NCAA Division 1 champion.  In this case, Sangamon State University (now the University of Illinois at Springfield) reached the finals

by defeating UCLA 1-0.  The Mexican champion, the Univ. de Veracruzana, like the NCAA representative, fell in the opening round.

The fifth WCSC once again featured teams from three nations. The United States NCAA champion Clemson Tigers and the champions from the NAIA, College of Boca Raton (now Lynn University), represented the United States.  Rounding out the competition were the Mexican collegiate winner Durango Technical Institute and, for the first time, the national champion from Switzerland, the University of Lausanne.

Collegiate soccer players proved their mettle as the semi-finals were played during a 58 mile per hour wind and dust storm, while the finals took place in rain and sleet.  Clemson University returned the world title to the United Sates, defeating Mexico 2-1.  The University of Lausanne captured third in a thrilling penalty kick overtime match against the College of Boca Raton.  Despite a 38 degree wind chill factor, 6,333 enthusiastic fans attended the final, producing an amazing two day attendance of 11,644.

Tempe, Arizona hosted the championship in 1989 as the WCSC was an official FIESTA BOWL co-sponsored event.  Weather once again tested the players and fans as temperatures reached an all-time high of 105 degrees for Sunday’s televised finals.  The extreme heat was felt by the University of Toronto, the Canadian college champion, as they were defeated by Indiana University, 4 –1, in front of 3,789 fans.  Mexico’s Instituto Tecnologico de la LaGuna captured third place with a penalty kick win over Sangamon State University.

The World Collegiate Soccer Championship™ continued its steady growth in 1990, by increasing its format to 8 teams and expanding its venue locations to two cites in two countries.  Aggie Memorial Stadium in Las Cruces, New Mexico and the Benito Juarez Stadium in Juarez, Mexico were simultaneously used in the two bracket 8 team format.

Participants represented five countries.  Returning as defending champion was Indiana University while Sao Paulo University represented the nation of Brazil.  From Mexico was the home town favorite and Mexican champion, the Univ. de Ciudad Juarez.  Germany sent its champion, the College of Aachen. Appearing on behalf of Canada was the University of British Columbia.  The United States NCAA champion was Santa Clara University and West Virginia Wesleyan represented the NAIA.  To round out the eight team field, the University of Texas-El Paso was added as champion from the National Collegiate Club Athletic Association (NCCSAA).

More than 32,000 enthusiastic fans enjoyed the dual- bracket, two-stadium, five nation event. Santa Clara University defeated the team from Germany in the finals 2-1 before more than 8,000 fans.
This eight team format continued in 1991 as the World Collegiate Soccer Championship™ extended its reach to the Soviet Union and the lineup of international teams represented six countries on two continents. Participating teams included Santa Clara University, (defending champion), the University of Stuttgart, (Germany), the University of British Columbia, (Canada) and the University of Colima, (Mexico), the University of Lausanne, (Switzerland) and the Moscow Power Engineering Institutes, (Russia),

UCLA (NCAA champion) and West Virginia Wesleyan (NAIA champion).  The finals paired two California teams, Santa Clara and UCLA, with the Bruins defeating the  Broncos, 3-1 before 8,500 fans at Aggie Memorial Stadium.  More than 33,000 people witnessed this exciting soccer action.

The ninth annual event marked the final year of the World Collegiate Soccer Championship™, which relocated once again, this time to El Paso, the headquarters of the sponsoring organization, Soccerfest  International, Inc.  The addition of Japan marked the expansion of the participant base into the Asia.

The Germans showed strong but it was Canada and Brazil in the world finals.  Canada struggled against the much older Brazilian players, who took home the trophy to South America.

El Paso Times, April 16, 1991