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16 Mar 2015
The road to Baku's gold, revealed
The draw, with representation from BSWW, BEGOC, the AFFA and former football players Robert Prosinecki Christian Karembeu distributes teams into the two groups
Baku 2015 today held the draw for the Beach Soccer competition at the inaugural European Games.
The celebration had two very special guests: Robert Prosinecki, who represented Barcelona and Real Madrid during his playing career, and now coaches the Azerbaijani national football team, was joined by FIFA 1998 World Cup and UEFA 2000 European Championship winner Christian Karembeu, who also played for Real Madrid, and now serves as FIFA Beach Soccer Ambassador. Together with them, Joan Cusco, BSWW Ex. vice-president and FIFA Beach Soccer Committee Member, Pierce O'Callaghan, Director of Sport at Baku 2015 and Farid Novruzi, president of the Azerbaijan Beach Soccer Federation presided the ceremony.
The two football legends made the draw, together with draw conductor Joan Cuscó, in the presence of the national coaches of the qualifying countries, representatives of FIFA and the Azerbaijan Beach Soccer Federation, the Azerbaijani national Beach Soccer team, and Baku 2015 staff.
The draw results were as follows:
In Group A, Azerbaijan, already seeded as A1 as host country, was accompanied by World Cup hosts Portugal, Switzerland
Instead, European runner-up Spain, Italy and EBSL Division B Champions Hungary were drawn into Group B, together of course with the World Champions and European kings Russia, already seeded as B1.
Mr Pierce O’Callaghan, Director of Sport at Baku 2015, said: "As one of four non-Olympic sports at Baku 2015, Beach Soccer is one of the innovations which we are proud to be bringing to the first European Games. Baku 2015 will provide a great platform for new fans to get to know this exciting sport, and as a young and dynamic discipline, it is a perfect fit for the European Games. I have no doubt that Beach Soccer will be a great draw for spectators, and look forward to a wonderful competition this summer."
Europe is home to some of the world's best Beach Soccer teams, including reigning world champions and runners-up Russia and Spain, respectively. Russia also took second place in the 2014 Intercontinental Cup, while Portugal finished third.
Mr Joan Cusco, FIFA Beach Soccer Committee Member and Executive Vice-President of Beach Soccer Worldwide, said: "Many of the world's top teams are set to compete in Baku at the inaugural European Games, and this draw provides us with a series of exciting match-ups. We look forward to a great Beach Soccer competition at Baku 2015 this summer."
Farid Novruzi, president of the Azerbaijan Beach Soccer Federation talked about the growth of beach soccer in the country, and highlighted that "this is a great opportunity for the Azerbaijan football family".
Mr José Miguel Mateus, Head Coach of the Azerbaijan Beach Soccer team, added: "Beach Soccer is a relatively young sport, but it is increasing in popularity all the time. Azerbaijan hosted a great edition of the Euro Beach Soccer Cup last year, and with home advantage I believe the national team can have a very successful competition at Baku 2015."
Mr Karembeu said: "This is a great moment for Beach Soccer. Baku 2015 will be a wonderful showcase for the sport, and being featured in the first edition of the European Games gives us a high-profile platform to increase interest and participation in Europe and beyond. Beach Soccer has all the ingredients to become one of the most entertaining sports in the Games. People will love it, I have no doubt about it."
The Baku 2015 Beach Soccer competition will take place from at the Beach Arena, a temporary venue which will hold 1,500 spectators.
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|SLV||8 - 4||BAH|
|USA||5 - 1||GLP|
|PAN||6 - 4||GUA|
|MEX||5 - 4||TRI|
|USA||3 - 3 (5 - 4) (PSO)||SLV|
|MEX||3 - 0||PAN|
|PAN||3 - 8||SLV|
|MEX||6 - 2||USA|