On 28 and 29 May, the Buchlern sports facility in Zurich hosts the 76th edition of the Blue Stars/FIFA Youth Cup, a traditional showcase for elite clubs from around the world to blood the stars of tomorrow. This year's tournament features junior teams sent by German champions Bayern Munich, Portugal's record champion Benfica and holders FC Zurich from Switzerland. The most exotic contenders this year come from Ghana (Asante Kotoko FC).
The starting line-up includes three further teams from Switzerland. Six-time tournament winners Grasshopper Club Zurich are joined by FC Sion and hosts FC Blue Stars. Greece cracks Olympiacos are also coming, while fans can look forward to a taste of South American flair in the shape of Atletico Paranaense from Brazil, host nation for the 2014 FIFA World Cup™. Villareal from Spain occupy the tenth and final place in the competition.
FIFA.com explains the rules and regulations governing the tournament.
Teams may nominate players born in 1994, 1995 and 1996. Each team is also permitted to nominate five players born after 31 December 1996. Overage players are not eligible. The organisers also made the following statement regarding eligibility: “To strengthen a team or to increase a team's appeal, players not registered with the club may also be selected – trialists from another club, for example."
Official squad lists, to be submitted prior to the tournament, may include a maximum of 18 players. A maximum of three players (outfield players or goalkeeper) may be substituted per match. Players retain the same squad number throughout the tournament.
The tournament is contested by ten teams divided into two groups of five. Each team plays every other team in its group once. The two group winners contest the final. The runners-up play off for third place, the third-place finishers play off for fifth, the fourth-placed teams contest seventh place, and the fifth-placed teams play off for ninth.
At the conclusion of the group fixtures, goal difference is used to separate two or more teams finishing level on points. If this fails to resolve a tie, the next criterion is the number of goals scored, then the number of points gained in the head-to-head comparison between the teams level on points.
The group matches and the play-offs for third to ninth place comprise two 20-minute halves. The final comprises two 25-minute halves. The half-time interval lasts five minutes. There is no extra time; all play-offs and the final go straight to penalties in the event of a draw.
FC Blue Stars Zurich (Switzerland)
FC Sion (Switzerland)
FC Zurich (Switzerland)
Grasshopper Club Zurich (Switzerland)
Asante Kotoko F.C. (Ghana)
Clube Atletico Paranaense (Brazil)
Bayern Munich (Germany)