The 80th edition of the Blue Stars/FIFA Youth Cup takes place at the Buchlern Sports Complex in Zurich on 9-10 May.
The tournament, which is staged under the slogan ‘Where Stars are Born’, has attracted teams from across the globe ever since its inauguration in 1939, with some of the biggest clubs in the game participating over the years. Spanish giants Real Madrid and Barcelona, their Argentinian counterparts River Plate and Boca Juniors, other European heavyweights such as Juventus and Bayern Munich and Chinese side Guangzhou Evergrande are all among the teams to have featured at the competition.
Countless players that subsequently became huge stars have etched their names in the tournament’s rich history, including former idols David Beckham, Pep Guardiola and Markus Babbel as well as current household names like Nani, Kaka, Stephan Lichtsteiner and Admir Mehmedi.
This year there will also be a women’s competition for the first time. Six U-19 sides, from Switzerland and further afield, will jostle for supremacy in tandem with the ten men’s teams. FIFA President Gianni Infantino had expressed his personal desire for FIFA to support women’s football even more intently.
Participating teams – Men
Group A: S.C. Internacional, RCD Espanyol, FC Koln, Young Boys Bern, Grasshopper Club Zurich
Group B: SC Braga, West Ham United, Dinamo Zagreb, FC Blue Stars Zurich, FC Zurich
Group A: Valencia CF, FC Zurich, FC Blue Stars
Group B: Inter Milan, Grasshopper Club Zurich, Young Boys Bern
- The ten men’s teams and six women’s teams are respectively divided into two groups and will each play in a round-robin format. The placement matches will determine where the clubs finish in the overall standings.
- In the men’s pool, the winner of Group A faces the winner of Group B for the title in the final. The Group A runners-up play their opposite number in Group B for third place, and so on.
- In the women’s competition, the top two teams from each section progress to the semi-finals, where the Group A winners will meet the Group B runners-up – and vice versa – for a place in the final. The remaining two sides go head-to-head in the match for fifth place.
- The games are played in two 20-minute halves (25 for the final).
- Only players born in the years 1998, 1999 and 2000 may participate. However, each team may have up to five players born after 31 December 2000.
- Manchester United have won the invitational tournament a record 18 times. Only four non-European clubs have ever managed to lift the trophy: Brazil’s Sao Paulo were the first to do so in 1999, and were followed by Boca Juniors (Argentina), Gremio and Atletico Paranaense (both Brazil).
- Eight different nations are represented at this anniversary edition: Switzerland, Germany, Spain, Italy, Portugal, England, Croatia and Brazil.
- The FIFA Legends match immediately after the finals on 10 May will provide a bonus highlight, with Zvonimir Boban, Marco van Basten, Nuno Gomes, Alex Frei, Christian Jimenez, Pascal Zuberbuhler and Matias Delgado among those set to play.
“The introduction of a women’s competition at the Blue Stars/FIFA Youth Cup is a great addition and we’re all delighted about it. It offers the women another opportunity to showcase their ability. That’s very valuable for us. Inter will take part with the aim of doing the club proud. That’s our motto at Inter. We’ve got excellent coaches, especially in our youth department. This team will bring a lot of joy to the spectators in Zurich.”
Inter Milan player Regina Baresi, daughter of club legend Beppe Baresi and niece of former AC Milan star Franco Baresi.