Welcome to 2016 everyone! We move into the new year with a head full of dreams, batteries recharged and an exciting 12 months ahead of us, in which the spotlight will very much be on women’s youth football.
Following the huge boost the women’s game received in the form of record crowds at an historic FIFA Women’s World Cup Canada 2015™, which also featured more teams than ever before, the next generation will look to continue the upward trend at this year’s U-17 and U-20 Women’s World Cup competitions.
And there is a lot more! The race for places at the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™ continuing, the Olympic Games taking place and the star-studded FIFA Ballon d’Or Gala, where the most outstanding player of 2015 will be announced, makes for an eventful year for football all around.
In short, it promises to be an action-packed 366 days on planet football, and to help you mark your card, FIFA.com brings you the most important dates on the calendar. Don’t forget to make a note of them all!
The footballing year gets off to a high-profile start on Monday 11 January, when Zurich’s Kongresshaus plays host to the FIFA Ballon d’Or Gala, the most glamorous night of the year. The glittering event will crown the outstanding performers of 2015, and FIFA.com will be providing extensive coverage during the evening to make sure you do not miss a thing.
The Russia 2018 qualifiers make their return on 21-29 March, kicking off what will be a key year for the nations hoping to make it to the big event. And if you want to find out more about the history of the World Cup, then why not take a visit to the FIFA World Football Museum in Zurich, which will have opened its doors by that stage and will house a unique collection of exhibits mapping out the history of the game? All in all, the new museum is an essential addition to the Swiss city’s sporting and cultural landscape.
In the meantime, the world’s domestic league and cup competitions will continue to unfold, as will the closing stages of the continental club competitions, which will decide which teams go forward to contest the FIFA Club World Cup in December. The first confederations to crown their champions will be CONCACAF and the OFC at the end of April, with UEFA following suit on 28 May, when the Stadio Giuseppe Meazza in Milan will provide the setting for the continent’s Champions League final.
June will be a special month on both sides of the Atlantic. While the USA stages the 2016 Centennial Copa America, a ground-breaking competition that will feature the ten CONMEBOL nations and six teams from the CONCACAF Zone and runs from 3 to 16 June, France will welcome Europe’s finest to UEFA EURO 2016, which starts on 10 June and reaches its finale on 10 July. The European finals will feature a record 24 teams, with the winners going forward to represent the continent at the FIFA Confederations Cup Russia 2017.
Next on the agenda is the two-legged final of the Copa Libertadores, scheduled for 20 and 27 July, with the first FIFA competitions of the year taking place the following month: the eagerly awaited Men’s and Women’s Olympic Football Tournaments. The two competitions will see Brazil back in the global footballing spotlight, with the men’s event taking place from 3 to 20 August and the women’s running from 5 to 21 August. The legendary Maracana will provide the setting for both finals.
The final straight
There will be no let up in the final four months of the year, starting on 4 September with the commencement of the Russia 2018 qualifying campaign in Europe, the last continent to embark on its World Cup preliminaries.
On 10 September we head indoors for the FIFA Futsal World Cup Colombia 2016, which reaches its conclusion on 1 October. On the last day of September, meanwhile, the action gets under way in the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup Jordan 2016, the final of which takes place on 21 October.
The tournament could well produce the next Abby Wambach or Homare Sawa and will ensure the continued promotion of the women’s game, as will the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup, the eighth edition of which will be played out in Papua New Guinea between 13 November and 3 December.
Meanwhile on 26 November, the Russian city of Kazan hosts the final draw of the 2017 Confederations Cup. It is also around this time of the year that the nominees for the 2016 FIFA Ballon d’Or will be announced.
And that is not all. Following a two-leg final, on 26 November we will find out which team will represent Asia at the Club World Cup, the last major event of the year, to be held once again in Japan.
We think you will agree: 2016 promises to be an exceptional year on the football front. But which event are you looking forward to most? Let us know in the comments below!