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On 15 and 16 July, for the first time in its history, FIFPro Division Africa is organising a tournament reserved for out-of contract players, as has been already been happening under the aegis of FIFPro all over Europe and in South America.

Stéphane Burchkalter, Secretary General of Division Africa, stressed that “the size of the African continent and the differences between transfer windows naturally gave us food for thought. It very quickly became apparent that this project could only be successful if we organised not one tournament but two: one event for the North and another for the South.“

The South quickly set to work and four unions will meet in South Africa: Sapru, obviously, which lent its support to the organisation, FUB (Botswana), FUZ (Zimbabwe) and the UFC (DR Congo).

Each of these unions has organised training camps and matches in the past for players without a club—one of the preconditions to be eligible to participate—and therefore has real experience in this area.

Burchkalter continued: “For the players taking part it will be a fantastic opportunity to prove that although they have not found a new contract, that doesn’t mean they are not excellent players, fully capable of continuing to practise their professional career as footballers at the highest level. Some have had a run of bad luck, others have been injured...

“There are many reasons that have led them to this situation, but it has nothing to do with their qualities and their professionalism. Helping them to pick up the threads of their careers is an integral part of the mission of each national union. Seeing several of these unions mobilise to give their members a better chance of finding a new contract is perfectly in line with the spirit of our division, whose cornerstone is solidarity.

“We also hope that this trial run will give us good reason to turn this tournament, and the forthcoming one in the North, into lasting fixtures. But we know that it is also up to the clubs to do their bit and we have no doubt they’ll be there when we get together on 15 and 16 July.”

It has been decided unanimously—how could it be otherwise?—that the Cup presented to the winner each year will be named the “Paul-Gundani Challenge Trophy”, after the Secretary General of the Zimbabwe Federation who passed away in November 2015.

FUB (Botswana), FUZ (Zimbabwe), Safpu (South Africa), UFC (Congo).

Dobsonville Stadium, Johannesburg

Friday 15 July
11 am: FUB – FUZ
2 pm: Safpu – UFC

Saturday 16 July
11 am: Third place playoff
14 pm: Final

Photo caption: Domo Landu (UFC), Desmond Maringwa (FUZ), Kgosana Masaseng (FUB) and Thulaganyo Gaoshubelwe (Safpu) on the evening of the draw at the Division Africa Congress.