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Japanese star to play in Hawaii soccer event

By Ferd Lewis

LAST UPDATED: 2:20 a.m. HST, Jul 6, 2011

Japan soccer legend Kazu Miura and the defending Major League Soccer champion Colorado Rapids will be the marquee attractions in the inaugural Hawaiian Islands Invitational.

Announcement of the field for the event, scheduled for Feb. 23 and 25, 2012, at Aloha Stadium, is expected as soon as today by officials, who are said to have booked pro teams from South Korea, Australian, Japan and the U.S.

It will be the first international pro soccer event here since the 2008 Pan-Pacific Championships.

The Rapids won the MLS Cup in November, defeating FC Dallas.

Miura is a revered figure in Japan, where he is referred to as simply "Kazu." He played in Brazil and returned home to help lift the fledgling J-League to prominence in the 1990s.

The 44-year-old Miura's popularity is such that a recent auction of his shoes raised a reported $70,000 for disaster relief. Miura has played for Yokohama FC since 2005.

Korea's K-League will be represented by Incheon United and the Australia A-League by Melbourne Heart FC.

The event is owned and operated by ESPN Regional Television, which also runs the Sheraton Hawaii Bowl and Hawaiian Airlines Diamond Head Classic.

ERT has told the Aloha Stadium Authority it hopes to make the invitational an annual event here.

The matches will be shown globally on ESPN International and, organizers have said.

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