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The much-anticipated 50th Anniversary edition of the FIFPro Tournament gets underway tonight with two matches in Vienna and Prague.

This is the eleventh iteration of the organisation’s namesake event, which this year sees a change in format to encompass more European countries than ever before.

The tournament focuses on giving out-of-contract players the opportunity to showcase their skills, impress potential employers and ultimately land jobs.

Clubs, scouts and fans are all welcome to experience the intensity and entertainment that comes with seeing professional players striving for new contracts.

FIFPro feels strongly that opening up the tournament will allow increased numbers of its constituents the opportunity to showcase themselves and sustain a career in football.

“At FIFPro we feel that this tournament is the best way for out of contract footballers to show their talents and get signed up with another club in order to extend their career in football,” Tijs Tummers, Director of Player Services at FIFPro, said in advance of the first matches.

The official tournament kickoff is Friday, 26 June. Games will be played in two cities, Prague and Vienna, showing FIFPro’s commitment to bolster the tournament’s reach. In Prague, the host Czech Republic will play Romania while Austria will host Ukraine in Vienna.

The winners of these matches will qualify for a so-called “Sweet 16” which includes sixteen countries from across Europe fighting for the title as FIFPro Champion. More importantly, all of these teams come to the tournament with the goal of showcasing their talent and creating interest within watching clubs. 

A knock-out format will then be applied in the tournament, paring these sixteen sides down to eight, then four, and ultimately, to two finalists who will fight for the championship in Rijnsburg, the Netherlands.

"FIFPro aimed to include as many European member unions as possible in this Anniversary Tournament. Eighteen player associations will participate in the competition during four consecutive weekends in June and July. The matches will be played in at least ten different countries. And the final weekend with the four strongest countries is scheduled in The Netherlands, near FIFPro's head office,” Tummers reiterated.

"One of the main advantages of the introduction of the knock-out system, is that players can show their skills and prove their fitness in regular 90-minutes matches (2 x 45), instead of 60-minutes matches."

Other countries taking part in the tournament include Spain, Greece, France, Portugal, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Bulgaria, Slovenia, Poland, Denmark, Montenegro, Malta, Denmark, Serbia and Belgium.

The Sweet Sixteen round will be played on Friday 3 July and Saturday 4 July.

The draw for the quarterfinals will then be held on Sunday 5 July with the corresponding fixtures played on the 10th and 11th of that month.

The Dutch town of Rijnsburg will then host the semifinals on Thursday 16 July before hosting the bronze and gold medal matches on Saturday 18 July.

Entry to these matches is free and support is encouraged. Additional information about matches in the qualifying and sweet sixteen rounds can be found through the relevant unions of a specific country.

 

The draw for the Sweet Sixteen round is as follows:

 

Spain vs Greece

Portugal vs Winner of Czech Republic/Romania

The Netherlands vs Switzerland

Slovenia vs Bulgaria

Poland vs Denmark

Montenegro vs Serbia

Belgium vs Winner of Austria/Ukraine

Malta vs France