History of the FIFPro Tournament
For many years several European footballers' unions have been organizing provisions for players who find themselves without a contract. Credit is due to the Italian players union AIC for having been the first to take the initiative. Since 1985 AIC organizes training sessions for out-of-contract players at the national training centre in Coverciano.
The French players union UNFP also has a long history of training sessions for professional footballers looking for a new club. In the same way as their Italian colleagues the French out-of-contract players are accommodated for several weeks to enable them to train twice a day. Aime Jacquet, who later became manager of the French national team who were world champions in 1998, was once the trainer of Team UNFP. In the 1990's Team UNFP was even allowed to participate in the French League Cup tournament (Coupe de la Ligue); the team reached the semi final in the 1993/94 season.
In 2004 the Dutch players’ union VVCS took the initiative to organize international matches for out-of-contract players. During that summer a match was played against a team from the Belgian players’ union Sporta, as well as a home and away match against Team UNFP.
Louis Everard, Tijs Tummers and Manuel Piumi
During the away match in Clairefontaine Louis Everard of VVCS, Manuel Piumi of UNFP and Tijs Tummers of FIFPro thought up the idea of an international FIFPro Tournament. The board of FIFPro immediately embraced this idea, as the FIFPro Tournament fits in well with the social image of the international representative of professional footballers.
The first edition of the FIFPro Tournament took place in 2005 in Senlis, France. Out-of-contract players from the players' unions of France (with two teams, North and South), England, Portugal and The Netherlands played each other in July 2005. Unfortunately the Belgian team had to cancel at the last moment due to a traffic accident, luckily with only minor injuries.
The FIFPro Tournament 2005 was visited by many international scouts and clubs. It turned out to be a great success. French players signed contracts in Poland and Bulgaria, a Portuguese player signed for the French team Montpellier.
The result was magnificent for the Dutch team: no less than eleven players found a new professional club. That France North won the tournament was of secondary importance.
In 2006 the second FIFPro Tournament took place in Rijnsburg, The Netherlands. Germany and Slovenia participated for the first time with a team of out-of-contract players. Slovenia even made it to the final, but lost to the Dutch Team VVCS.
In 2007 the FIFPro Tournament went to Lisbon, Portugal. Switzerland and Italy were participating for the first time. In the end the Italian pros beat a strong Slovenian side in the final. The famous captain of the Italians, Beppe Signori, scored the winning goal from a beautiful free kick.
In 2008 Rijnsburg hosted the FIFPro Tournament for the second time. New in this edition was a Scandinavian team with players from Denmark and Finland. The Netherlands won the tournament as two years before, leaving Slovenia as runners up for the third year in a row.
Cannes hosted the 2009 edition of the FIFPro Tournament. Six teams participated in probably the strongest playing field in the short history of the event. France was most successful, beating Denmark in the final. Within a month after the FIFPro Tournament numerous players from the Danish, Dutch, French and Portuguese team had already found a new professional club.
A record 8 teams participated in the 2010 FIFPro Tournament, once again organized in Rijnsburg, The Netherlands. Spain made its debut in the competition, reaching as far as the final. France succeeded in winning back-to-back FIFPro Tournament’s.
In the winter of 2011, FIFPro celebrated two new tournaments. In Oslo, Norway, four countries played each other in the first Winter Tournament. Finland beat the hosts from Norway in the final, Sweden took the third place, while Ireland’s Daryl Kavanagh collected the Most Valuable Player award. He also earned a contract, as he signed within five days after the tournament.
In Santiago de Chile, six teams from five South American countries participated in the inaugural Torneo FIFPro América. Brazil took the cup, after a quality tournament with players from Argentina, Chile, Peru and Uruguay.
The results of all FIFPro Tournaments (click on the year to see the results)