Only a few days have passed since Europe's top players finally got the chance to put their feet up following a long, hard season, but already fans around the world are suffering withdrawal symptoms. However, there is still plenty of football to be played.
In North America 12 teams are currently battling it out for the CONCACAF Gold Cup in the USA. Among the favourites are age-old rivals Mexico and USA, who each began the tournament with victories against El Salvador and Canada respectively. Aside from the coveted trophy, the eventual winners will also secure themselves a place at the 2013 FIFA Confederations Cup in Brazil.
The first world champion of the year is set be crowned this Thursday at the spectacular Mayan Theatre cinema in Los Angeles, where the final of the FIFA Interactive World Cup 2011 is due to take place.
In the footsteps of Fabregas
Not so far away from the world's largest computer games event in L.A., FIFA's first tournament of 2011 will be kicking off in Mexico with the FIFA U-17 World Cup (18 June-10 July). We already know that this year's edition will produce a brand new champion after holders Switzerland failed to make it through European qualifying.
Once again it will be well worth keeping an eye on events in Mexico, where you can be guaranteed of a sneak peak at the stars of tomorrow. Landon Donovan, Cesc Fabregas and Toni Kroos are just three of the illustrious names to have won the adidas Golden Ball as the tournament's best player before going on to international renown.
The action continues thick and fast following the conclusion of the Gold Cup on 25 June with the highlight of this year's international football calendar, the FIFA Women's World Cup 2011™. Almost 80,000 fans are expected at the sold-out Berlin Olympiastadion for the Opening Match between hosts Germany and Canada. In all, 16 teams will compete to become the queens of women's football, with the Final set to take place in Frankfurt on 17 July.
"It should be even more of a fairytale, because women will have the starring roles. It's up to the players to make the World Cup attractive and whip up a great atmosphere by playing the way they do best, a combination of elegance, subtlety and creativity," explained the enthusiastic FIFA President Joseph Blatter at the presentation of the tournament's official logo in 2008.
South America in focus
While the finest female players in the game are still battling it out in Germany, the Copa America will be kicking off in Argentina (1-24 July). Five-time world champions Brazil, hosts Argentina and 2010 FIFA World Cup™ surprise packages Uruguay top the bill in a 12-team tournament, the winners of which will represent the CONMEBOL Zone at the FIFA Confederations Cup 2013.
Staying with South America, the 2014 FIFA World Cup may be over three years away, but the entire football world will avert its gaze to Rio de Janeiro on 30 July for the Brazil 2014 Preliminary Draw at the picturesque Marina da Gloria harbour.
Last but not least, Colombia is preparing to welcome the planet’s best young players between 29 July and 20 August at the FIFA U-20 World Cup 2011, arguably the most prestigious youth tournament worldwide. FIFA Ballon d’Or winneer Lionel Messi burst onto the scene by collecting the adidas Golden Ball at the 2005 edition in the Netherlands, while further world stars to have shone at the tournament include Diego Maradona, Sergio Aguero (both Argentina), Seydou Keita (Mali) and Adriano (Brazil). This year’s competition will once again provide the stage for some of the most exciting young talents in world football, many of whom have already made the breakthrough with top European clubs.
By the time the U-20 world champions are crowned in mid-August, Europe’s top leagues will already be well underway and the new UEFA Champions League season will also be just around the corner. In addition, there are a host of mouth-watering international fixtures to look forward to.
While South Africa 2010 finalists Netherlands take on England, Stuttgart will host a repeat of the 2002 FIFA World Cup Final between Germany and Brazil. To top it all, reigning world champions Spain host 2006 winners Italy on 10 August.