It’s happening, folks. The 2024 Senior World Cup seems to be a very real project and the plans for the tournament are reportedly in place.
According to a report by David Coverdale of the Daily Mail, the cup will take place next summer with England as the host of the tourney as it’s played after the UEFA Champions League final and before the start of the UEFA Euro 2024 staged to kick-off in Germany past mid-June.
This “over-35s World Cup,” as Coverdale unofficially dubbed it in his report, will feature some of the sport’s legends who are now retired but still have the itch for some competitive footie.
When it comes to official denominations, this thing is seemingly down to the masterplans of the Elite Players Group (EPG), which is an organization comprising “former top-level footballers and sports businessmen,” per the report, and which is the main organizer of the upcoming eight-team tournament they have officially called the EPG Cup.
The competition, per Cleverdale, will include former FIFA World Cup champion nations including England, Argentina, Brazil, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, and Uruguay, all of them winners of at least one WC in the past.
The tournament is reportedly scheduled for early June, thus falling right in the empty space between the UCL final and the start of Euro 2024, quite the sweet spot for this type of content-filling, fun competition to be played at.
If all goes according to plan, then the tourney will consist of seven matches played over one week in a yet-to-be-finalized stadium, with discussions ongoing with several of the Premier League’s largest clubs in the north of the country, potentially including Newcastle. That latter bit is still unclear, however, as the Magpies definitely have an elite-level stadium and great facilities in place but they will host an England international friendly against Bosnia & Herzegovina on June 3, potentially complicating the logistics of holding the EPG Cup in that same timeframe.
The nations competing in the EPG Cup will be restricted to build their squads exclusively with players aged 35 or over that also have either received national team caps or made at least 100 top-flight appearances. Some players expected to join the final rosters, per the report, include former Brazil genius Ronaldinho, classy Frenchman Thierry Henry, and former England players-turned-pundits Michael Owen and Steve McManaman.
The captains for each team, according to Cleverdale, will be the founders of the EPG. Besides McManaman for England, the captains include Esteban Cambiasso (Argentina), Emerson (Brazil), Christian Karembeu (France), Kevin Kuranyi (Germany), Marco Materazzi (Italy), Michel Salgado (Spain), and Diego Lugano (Uruguay).
The provisional squads also feature five former Ballon d’Or winners: Michael Owen (England), Kaka, Ronaldinho, and Rivaldo (Brazil), and Fabio Cannavaro (Italy). England’s squad, per the report, is said to include Ashley Cole, Joe Cole, Rio Ferdinand, David James, Frank Lampard, and Robbie Fowler.
Other prominent players rumored to be participating and listed by Cleverdale are Cafu and Roberto Carlos (Brazil), Thierry Henry and Marcel Desailly (France), Hernan Crespo and Pablo Zabaleta (Argentina), Mesut Ozil and Sami Khedira (Germany), David Villa and Carles Puyol (Spain), Francesco Totti (Italy), and Diego Forlan (Uruguay).
The EPG Cup matches will be 11-a-side and 70 minutes long, with rolling substitutes allowed from the 18-man squads. The tournament is set to start already at a quarter-final stage on June 4 (the day of the inaugural ceremony) and June 5, then the semi-finals on June 8, and the final on June 11.
The full plans for the tournament and the whole EPG organization can be found here.