FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup 2008 qualifiers to kick off in Durban
In 2008, the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup will be leaving Brazil's Copacabana beach for the first time ever and will instead be staged in Marseilles, France, from 17 to 27 July, with 16 teams competing in the fourth edition of this event. Football action on beaches around the world begins next week when the first of five qualifying tournaments kicks off in Durban, South Africa. Further qualifiers in the AFC, CONCACAF, CONMEBOL and UEFA regions will follow.
- AFC - The qualifying tournament in the Asian zone will take place in Dubai from 6 to 10 May, where the United Arab Emirates will be hosting the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup 2009. The teams participating in the qualifiers have yet to be announced. Three teams will qualify for the final competition.
- CAF - Eight African teams, including South Africa, Egypt, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Senegal, Nigeria, Mozambique and Côte d'Ivoire will be competing for two berths in the finals in Durban, South Africa, from 25 to 30 March.
- CONCACAF - 2007 FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup runners-up Mexico, together with Canada, Costa Rica, El Salvador and the USA, will compete for two places in the finals in a qualifying tournament in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, from 16 to 20 April.
- CONMEBOL - Seven teams, namely 2006 and 2007 FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup champions Brazil as well as Argentina, Chile, Paraguay, Peru, Uruguay and Venezuela will participate in qualifiers in Buenos Aires, Argentina, from 23 to 27 April, with three places in the finals available.
- OFC - The Oceania Football Confederation has nominated the Solomon Islands as the region's representative at the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup 2008. The Solomon Islands also qualified for the two previous editions of the competition.
- UEFA - 24 European teams will be participating in the qualifying event in Benidorm, Spain, from 13 to 18 May: Andorra, Austria, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Czech Republic, England, Estonia, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Slovakia, Spain, Switzerland and Ukraine. Four places in the finals are available.
As the host side, France are automatically qualified and will be hoping to repeat their 2005 triumph when they lifted the sport's coveted World Cup title in the inaugural tournament. In addition, local fans will be hoping their beach soccer team can emulate the French team who clinched the 1998 FIFA World Cup™ on home territory.
The final draw for the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup 2008 in Marseilles will take place in Benidorm after the last UEFA qualifying match on 18 May.
Extensive coverage of the qualifiers and final competition of the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup 2008 will once again be available on the tournament's official website http://www.fifa.com/ and will include match schedules, results, standings, team profiles, reports and other information.