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International Soccer Festival to Host Celebrity Gala on Sept. 29 in Houston

Actor Liev Schreiber, Soccer Legend Ronaldinho, U.S. Soccer Foundation CEO Ed Foster-Simeon, ISF Chair Lucia Kaiser and ISF President Corey Mason to be Honored

HOUSTON–(BUSINESS WIRE)–#BlueCheckUkraineThe International Soccer Festival Celebrity Gala 2023 will be held on Friday, Sept. 29, at 6 p.m. at The Crystal Ballroom at The Rice in Houston. The fundraising goal for this inaugural event is $2 million, which will benefit BlueCheck Ukraine, the U.S. Soccer Foundation, and the International Soccer Festival. More than 400 are expected to attend this high-profile event.

In 2027, the City of Houston will host the inaugural International Soccer Festival. This week-long celebration will highlight international soccer team exhibition matches, international film festivals, international musical performances, cultural exhibits, and Business conferences.

The Celebrity Gala 2023 will be chaired and hosted by International Soccer Festival Chairwoman Lucia Kaiser. Based in New York, Kaiser is a two-time Emmy Award-winning producer, philanthropist, and speaker. Tech titan and global philanthropist Jeff Hoffman and Liev Schreiber, Emmy Award and Tony Award-nominated actor and co-founder of BlueCheck Ukraine, will be the keynote speakers. Brazilian soccer star and legend “Ronaldinho” and U.S. Soccer Foundation Chief Executive Officer Ed Foster-Simeon are guest speakers at the gala. Quincy Jones — American record producer, songwriter, composer, arranger, and winner of 28 Grammys and television producer — will join Hoffman and Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee in honoring Schreiber, Ronaldhino, Simeon, Kaiser, and Corey Mason at the gala.

“Our 2023 Celebrity Gala will recognize the achievements of our non-profit partners, celebrity guests, and community leaders. We look forward to bringing them together in Houston and to kick off ISF 2027. Our first gala will complement the FIFA World Cup in the United States in 2026 and is designed to infuse the spirit of peace and cooperation. We know how effective soccer can be in serving as a catalyst to unite diverse communities. The International Soccer Festival in Houston in 2027 will be a unique experience that enables participants, attendees, and supporters to gain a better understanding of international culture while highlighting Houston’s passion for ‘all things soccer,’” commented Mason, who is president of the International Soccer Festival.

Deeply moved by the war in Ukraine which has displaced thousands of Ukrainians, Mason and other ISF organizers are supporting BlueCheck Ukraine. ( BlueCheck Ukraine was co-founded by actor Liev Schreiber.

The Gala Host Committee includes:

  • Cristal Montañéz Baylor – International humanitarian, citizen diplomat and human freedom activist
  • Arthur Pronin – Houston-based Jewish community advocate
  • Anika Jackson – Founder and Vice President at Full Capacity Marketing, Inc., host of “Your Brand Amplified Podcast”
  • Steve Payne – President of Linden Strategies & Linden Energy
  • Juli Mathew – Judge at County Court of Law Number 3 in Fort Bend County
  • Vanessa Agudelo – Executive Director, Business Women Association
  • Jamal Bafagih – President, Houston Abu Dhabi Sister City Association
  • Antonio Soave – President, Global Foundation for Peace through Soccer/The Soccer Academy

“As chair of both ISF and the ISF gala, I am excited about having an opportunity to speak to such a distinguished audience of Houstonians about how we can grow the film industry in Texas and make it a hub for filmmakers and actors. I am also humbled to be honored for my work in the entertainment industry by the distinguished leadership in Houston. I am thankful for the support at the Gala of some of my dearest industry friends, mentors, and business partners, such as the legendary producer and composer Quincy Jones and the award-winning global entrepreneur Jeff Hoffman,” Kaiser commented.

Tickets range from $500 to $1,000 per supporter. Sponsorship packages starting at $25,000 are available on the ISF website:

Former professional soccer player and international legend David Beckham will be providing a personally autographed Manchester United Jersey as one of the auction items for the Celebrity Gala. Beckham is the current president and co-owner of Inter Miami, the team for which Lionel Messi is currently playing.

About BlueCheck Ukraine

Founded in March 2022 in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine by individuals with more than 30 years of combined experience in humanitarian aid and others with vast expertise across various industries, BlueCheck identifies, verifies, and fast-tracks funding to impactful local humanitarian organizations. A 501(c)(3), tax-exempt non-profit backed by the due diligence vetting services of Ropes and Gray and Integrity Risk International, BlueCheck swiftly deploys much-needed financial resources to the right place and to the right people in Ukraine, as responsibly and efficiently as possible. BlueCheck funds more than 20 local Ukrainian and diaspora organizations delivering water, food, and medicine, building shelters, distributing cash assistance, removing unexploded ordnance and landmines, evacuating people trapped in besieged areas, and caring for widows, elderly and children with special needs in every region of Ukraine.

“ISF will allocate proceeds from 2023 to 2027 to this organization by uniting the world’s soccer community. A percentage of all auction items sold during the philanthropic ISF Celebrity Gala will be used to alleviate the suffering caused by the war in Ukraine,” Mason commented.

About Global Foundation for Peace Through Soccer

ISF has recently signed an extensive teaming agreement and strategic alliance with the Global Foundation for Peace through Soccer, an international non-profit entity based in the United States. Since 2011, the Global Foundation has conducted free soccer clinics and camps for underprivileged youth players around the world, while spreading a message of peace through soccer. The Global Foundation also distributes free food, free soccer equipment, and free soccer shoes to participants in its clinics. This past spring, the Global Foundation joined forces with the U.S. State Department and the U.S. Embassy in Rabat to conduct an All-Girls’ Soccer Clinic in Morocco. The Global Foundation hosted various camps in Marrakech, Morocco, and Safi, Morocco for both boys and girls between the ages of 7 and 17 last year as well.

The ISF will collaborate with the U.S. Soccer Foundation. The U.S. Soccer Foundation is a legacy of the 1994 FIFA World Cup in the United States.

About the U.S. Soccer Foundation

The mission of the U.S. Soccer Foundation is to provide underserved communities access to innovative play spaces and evidence-based soccer programs that instill hope, foster well-being, and help youth achieve their fullest potential.

Since 2011, the U.S. Soccer Foundation has partnered with Houston Parks and Recreation to run its Soccer for Success after-school program. The Houston Independent School District recently added the “Soccer for Success School Curriculum” as an official offering as well. The U.S. Soccer Foundation has also installed 30 “mini-pitches” (mini fields) for communities around the Greater Houston area, and it has plans for additional pitches in the lead-up to the 2026 World Cup in the region.

Please visit for more information.


Laura Pennino, PR Consultant for the ISF Celebrity Gala 2023

[email protected], mobile 713 419 1776


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