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Tipsport Cup highlights MFA’s will to progress – Bjorn Vassallo

The Tipsport Cup is set to get under way for the fourth consecutive year on the Maltese islands with four high-profile teams set to grace the National Stadium between January 18 and January 25.

The four teams that will be representing four different countries – a first for the Tipsport Malta Cup – are Slovakia’s Spartak Trnava, Denmark’s AaB Aalborg, WSG Tirol, of Austria and Sigma Olomouc of Czechia.

AaB are currently fourth in Denmark’s top-flight with 28 points after 17 games.  The Danish league is currently on pause for the traditional winter break during the months of December and January.

The four-time Denmark champions will see this tournament as an opportunity to prepare for their remaining four league outing, starting by their away trip to leaders Midtjylland.

Spartak Trnava, on their part, have just launched their Slovakian campaign with one win and one defeat after two games.

The Slovakian side faced Mosta in the first qualifying round of the newly-launched UEFA Europa Conference League back in June. Spartak Trnava boast former Liverpool defender Martin Skrtel in their squad.

These two sides highlight the reputation that the Tipsport Malta Cup has earned in the last four years across Europe, something that Malta FA president Bjorn Vassallo is keen to keep growing.

“Despite these difficult times across the world, including in our country, this tournament will help us provide a good image of Malta,” Vassallo told a news conference.

“The Malta FA has a lot of energy and drive to progress and we are committed to upgrade our facilities to very high standards when compared to our nearby European regions.

“We are investing in a social fund which will help us progress in our renovation of the Training Grounds and the upcoming construction of the National Football Centre.”

Speaking about the National Football Centre, president Vassallo explained that this will include the Technical Centre and a complex with all necessary requirements for foreign teams that come over to Malta.

In addition, the pitch which is set to complete this Training Centre should be classified as Category 1 making it the fourth such stadium on these Maltese islands under UEFA norms.

Busy year

Moreover, Vassallo pointed out that 2022 will be a busy year for all national teams with competitive and non-competitive games set to attract a large number of foreign contingent.

The MFA SportsPlus Limited, with the backing of the Malta Tourism Authority and organisers Tipsport, will be handling all logistics of the four participants.

Jason Micallef, chairman of MFA SportsPlus, praised the commitment of the people working within the organisation that has helped it to be involved in the logistics of such tournaments in the Beautiful Game.

Moreover, Micallef announced that MFA SportsPlus will be coordinating this year’s Athletics Championships of the Small States of Europe which will be held in June and next year’s Games of the Small Nations of Europe, which will be organised in Malta as well

Helmut Amhof, representative of MFA SportsPlus, thanked the sponsors which he deems crucial for the positive image that the Tipsport Malta Cup has gained in recent years.

Amhof added that all six games will be broadcasted on television in the team’s native countries, as they managed to sell the TV rights as well. At the same time, he also explained that other teams are already enquiring about the possibility of participating in this tournament in the future editions.

Carlo Micallef, Deputy CEO and Chief Marketing Officer of the Malta Tourism Authority, echoed his colleagues’ thoughts in heaping praise on the growth of the MFA SportsPlus and insisted on the importance of boosting Malta’s image and economy in these testing times.

A point which is dear for Clayton Bartolo, Minister for Tourism and Consumer Protection, as he underlined that is crucial that this niche tourism is backed.

“Usually, the tourism industry is not very active during this winter period and in particular, during the Covid-19 pandemic,” Bartolo said.

“So this tournament will be key to boost our economy with 3,300 bed nights allocated for eight days and 43 media houses travelling over to Malta.

“This injects in us further motivation to organise such events in the coming years.”

FIXTURES

JANUARY 18

S. Trnava vs WSG Tirol 16.00

S. Olomouc vs Aalborg              20.00

JANUARY 21

WSG Tirol vs Aalborg  16.00

S. Olomouc vs S. Trnava           20.00

JANUARY 24

Spartak Trnava vs Aalborg, 12.30

S. Olomouc vs WSG Tirol          16.30

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