Football News

What is the Over-35 World Cup? Everything we know about the new tournament so far

By Harry Edwards

Published: 12:00, 5 March 2024

Football fans are set to be treated to a tournament of former greats this summer.

British fans of a certain age will remember Masters Football, a six-a-side tournament involving clubs from England and Scotland, played across the country. There, players over the age of 35 combined for their former clubs, consisting of some legends and over ex-pros who were just available, to compete to be the best.

In its first guise, Masters Football ended in 2011, but there have been plans to revive the competition. For those waiting, this isn’t Masters Football, but there is another exciting tournament coming.

What is the Over-35 World Cup?

Also known as the EPG (Elite Players Group) Cup, this tournament is exclusively for players aged 35 and above, who are not current playing for any professional league. There is also the requirement of at least half of the 18-man squads having had to play at least once for their national team at youth or senior level, or having made over 100-top flight appearances across their career.

When is the Over-35 World Cup?

The Over-35 World Cup is scheduled to take place at the start of June between the Champions League final and Euro 2024. It will kick off on June 4 and finish on June 11, with games on five separate days. Newcastle United’s St James’ Park is being reported as the hosting stadium for the tournament, though there is yet to be an official confirmation.

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How will the Over-35 World Cup work?

Unlike the aforementioned Masters tournaments, this is “proper football”. The matches will consist of 11v11 in a straight-knockout format, with four quarter-finals, two semi-finals and one final — totalling seven games. It is direct elimination, meaning there is no second chance for the match losers.

All seven games will take place in one stadium, with two matches played per day. Each game will consist of two halves of 35 minutes, with a 15-minute break for half time. Should the two sides be level at the end of the 70 minutes, the game will go straight to penalties, with a five per team.

Given the nature of the tournament, there are rolling subs, with each team able to make as many changes as they deem necessary. Players who have been subbed off will also be allowed to come back on. With no official managers, team captains will be in charge of delivering a list of 18 players, a technical director, physical trainer and doctor.

Finally, at least nine of the 18 players must have played at least one match for their nation — at youth or senior level — or have at least 100 matches in the top flight.

Over-35 World Cup confirmed teams

The first Over-35 World Cup will consist of eight teams, from the only eight nations to have won the FIFA World Cup. Those are: Brazil, Germany, Italy, Argentina, France, Uruguay, England and Spain.

Of course, Brazil lead the way with the most World Cup wins, taking the crown five times, one more than both Germany and Italy. Argentina have won it three times, France and Uruguay twice, while England and Spain have one each.

Over-35 World Cup confirmed players

The eight captains have been confirmed, and there have been some reports of players set to be involved too. The full squads will be confirmed in due course, though there is no deadline for that date announced just yet.

Between the captains alone there are over 75 titles and cups won at both club and international level, including two former World Cup winners in Christian Karembeu and Marco Materazzi. Karembeu won the World Cup with France in 1998 while Materazzi, of course, lifted the World Cup with Italy in 2006 — after being headbutted by Zinedine Zidane in the final.

Argentina: Esteban Cambiasso (captain), Hernan Crespo, Pablo Zabaleta.

Brazil: Emerson (captain), Cafu, Roberto Carlos, Kaka, Rivaldo, Ronaldinho.

England: Steve McManaman (captain), Ashley Cole, Joe Cole, Rio Ferdinand, Robbie Fowler, David James, Michael Owen.

France: Christian Karembeu (captain), Marcel Desailly, Thierry Henry.

Germany: Kevin Kuranyi (captain), Sami Khedira, Mesut Ozil.

Italy: Marco Materazzi (captain), Fabio Cannavaro, Francesco Totti.

Spain: Michel Salgado (captain), Carles Puyol, David Villa.

Uruguay: Diego Lugano (captain), Diego Forlan.