Excitement awaits in 2012
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Happy New Year to you all! Have you opened your new diary yet? Is the 2012 calendar already occupying its place on the wall? Well, today FIFA.com gives you the chance to start using them both, so grab a pen and start noting down the unmissable dates of the coming year on planet football.

If you thought 2011 was action-packed then hold on to your hats, because the tournaments are set to come thick and fast in 2012. Nor will football followers have to wait long for the first major international showpiece of the year, with the CAF Africa Cup of Nations set to take place between 21 January and 12 February in Gabon and Equatorial Guinea.

That is also the case for the victors of the UEFA EURO 2012, which will unfold in Ukraine and Poland from 8 June to 1 July. Will holders Spain successfully defend their title or can someone topple La Roja? Meanwhile, on the other side of the globe, the champions of the OFC Nations Cup will be crowned in June, thus finalising the list of competitors for Brazil 2013 well ahead of the draw on 24 November. Adding an extra dose of spice is the fact that the host cities of said competition will also be confirmed this year.

Nor must we forget the domestic league and cup action around the world, as well as continental club events such as the UEFA Champions League, whose final will be played on 19 May in Munich, or the Copa Libertadores. Both hotly contested tournaments offer places at the next FIFA Club World Cup, which will be staged by Japan between 6 and 16 December.

Women’s football to the fore
Though still awaiting official confirmation, Japan have put themselves forward to host the next FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup. The country which produced the winners of the FIFA Women’s World Cup Germany 2011™ would be proud to welcome the finest U-20 players around, with the tournament pencilled in for 18 August to 8 September. Also on the agenda is the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup in Azerbaijan, from 22 September to 13 October.

There is no doubt 2012 has all the hallmarks of a vintage year in the women’s game, given that long-standing competitions the Algarve Cup and the Cyprus Women’s Cup are set to be held almost simultaneously between 28 February and 7 March.  Particularly unmissable from 25 July to 11 August are the Men’s and Women’s Olympic Football Tournaments at London 2012, where every participant will be going all out for gold medals. Early in the year we will discover the final names added to the list of competing nations, while the draw is going to take place on 24 April.

Still not enough for you? Last year featured world-class beach soccer on the sands of Italy and 2012 will be the turn of indoor artists, given that Thailand is gearing up to host the FIFA Futsal World Cup between 2 and 18 November. As the holders and four-time champions, can anyone stop Brazil coming out on top once more?

Brazil 2014 edging closer
Sticking with Brazil and the build-up to the next FIFA World Cup™ is hotting up. As work on the stadiums continues to progress and infrastructural improvements gather pace, there are also a number of upcoming key events that will contribute to the tournament taking shape, such as the unveiling of the official slogan. Adding to the excitement from June onwards will be more qualifying matches for the footballing showpiece, with the European Zone qualifiers getting under way as of September.

Intense enough for you? Well just to whet everyone’s appetites still further, on 9 January comes the FIFA Ballon d’Or Gala in Zurich. FIFA.com will be on hand to make sure our users do not miss a moment of the star-studded affair, which will crown the finest performers of 2011. Given there is surely no better way to kick off the year than a glamour-laden celebration of the world’s best players, will you risk missing out?

For a closer look at the dates to keep an eye out for on the 2012 footballing calendar, check out the link on the right-hand side.

Have your say
Which footballing event are you most looking forward to in 2012? Let us and fellow fans across the world know, remembering to keep your posts clean, respectful, on-topic and in English.