It’s a Tuesday morning at 9 a.m. at LIV and I’m sitting on a couch that’s been overrun with marks from high heels. I’m not at the famous Miami club after a long night of partying and blindly swiping my credit card. I’m here for the International Champions Cup, a tournament taking place primarily in the U.S. this summer, featuring clubs such as Real Madrid, Barcelona, Manchester United, Manchester City, Juventus, Bayern Munich, Liverpool, and more.

Past stars for these clubs—like Lothar Matthaus, who captained the 1990 West German National Team to a World Cup trophy, and Sami Hyypia, who played for Liverpool’s European championship from 2005—are here. So are American lovers of European soccer, who are getting hardons from Italian footballers, and big-money American sports moguls, who are, presumptively, looking to cash in on being associated with Manchester United playing Real Madrid on U.S. soil. I’m there as a modest New York Red Bulls supporters who just likes to follow his local club and has no interest in watching Messi or Ronaldo from the comfort of my own home on a Saturday.

I pissed a lot of people off when I said that Zlatan Ibrahimovic signing to the MLS’ Los Angeles Galaxy was a magnifying glass on what’s wrong with soccer in America. That people still ran to big names, preferred the European product on TV to watching a local club in person, and didn’t form meaningful, long-lasting allegiances with clubs in which they have geographic connections. I still feel that way, and no one can tell me any different.

A few hours after writing that story, I got an invite to hop on a plane a week later to attend this event.

I wanted to travel to the heart of the Euro snobbery that occurs in football in America to see how people viewed the sport. I kept hearing how a tournament that featured clubs that would play several times in states such as Michigan, New Jersey, and California would foster genuine, long-lasting connections for Americans who have an interest in soccer.

As champagne glasses clinked and you could see the execs counting up the expected money, I had the opportunity to talk to a handful of soccer legends. Except I didn’t talk about their careers, their former club’s chances of winning their league or landing a big-name transfer. Rather I just wanted to talk to successful European footballers about what they thought about the sport in America and what they thought American fans of the sport could do better and how they could better engage football. And, of course, whether having an affinity for a club thousands of miles away was the answer into becoming a bona fide football lad. Here’s what they had to say.