Spain's next UEFA Regions' Cup representatives must outdo sides from Germany, Greece and Malta if they are to make it to the finals of the 2010/11 edition of Europe's top amateur competition.
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Europe's amateur footballers will earn their piece of the spotlight during the seventh UEFA Regions' Cup tournament, which has opened for the 2010/11 season with the preliminary and intermediate round draw at UEFA's headquarters in Nyon on Friday.
Thirty-nine UEFA member associations have entered the latest competition. The entrants will be regional selections who win a national qualifying competition with the exception of Malta and San Marino, who enter national amateur teams. All qualifying groups are played as one-venue mini-tournaments from next autumn.
Twelve associations were drawn in the preliminary round and the three group winners and two best runners-up will progress to the intermediate round, joining 27 contenders exempt to that stage. The eight intermediate round group winners will progress to the final tournament scheduled for summer 2011, with the hosts picked from among the qualifiers. Castilla y León AMA, representing Spain, won the last final tournament in 2009 in Croatia. The next Spanish representatives will begin in intermediate round Group 1, facing hosts Malta and selections from Germany and Greece.
The draw was made by UEFA Executive Committee member and UEFA Youth and Amateur Football Committee chairman Grigoriy Surkis, and the committee's first vice-chairman Jim Boyce. "The UEFA Regions' Cup has been a very successful competition for UEFA," Boyce said in his draw address. "It gives players who might never have the chance of playing in European competition the opportunity to play and make new friends."
The UEFA Regions' Cup came into being following a decision by the then UEFA Committee for Amateur Football of the time to launch the idea of a new continental amateur competition in 1996. Amateur players comprise the vast majority of Europe's footballers, and the latest competition is sure to unearth a treasure trove of talented footballers who play each match for the love of the game.
*Malta and San Marino will field national amateur teams; other nations field regional selections.