University World Cup Football: Team Challenge semi-finals are set

University of the Republic from Uruguay, champions of the inaugural FISU University World Cup Football in 2019 have once again marched into the semi-finals, in the digital edition.

On 14 May 2020, FISU launched the digital University World Cup Team Challenge on its social media platforms, bringing together eight teams that had participated in Jinjiang, People’s Republic of China last November, to ‘replay’ the tournament virtually.

Instead of football matches on ground, this time the teams competed with football juggling compilation videos that give the impression of a seamless sequence, even though they are shot separately in individual homes, during this time of isolation and quarantine. FISU’s ‘virtual’ tournament is capturing imaginations with thousands of fans viewing the videos and voting online to decide each of the four quarterfinals that have taken place.

The closest contest so far was the nail-biting second quarterfinal between the International University of Language and Media (IULM), Italy and the University of Málaga, Spain. The Italians edged the Spaniards 51% to 49%, to set up a semi-final clash with Germany’s Julius Maximilians University of Würzburg.

Two opposing styles will be on display in the first semi-final, as the Germans display exceptional skill and precision, while the Italians have a healthy dose of humour in their video. Voting is set to start on Tuesday, 26 May on the official FISU Instagram account.

"Putting this video together was a welcome change and a great opportunity to have a little chat amongst ourselves," said Tim Lorenz, of the University of Würzburg. "Everybody was missing those talks in the dressing room and the time together on the pitch. Now we hope that we have enough support and can reach the final! Great challenge, great idea from FISU!"

The second semi-final will see the 2019 champions from Uruguay taking on the Autonomous University of Mexico State. The Mexicans were also semi-finalists at the tournament in Jinjiang and will be looking to go one better this time round even though they are up against the favourites.

This was a real pleasure," said Pamela Aguirre, who had been Head of Delegation for the Mexican team in Jinjiang last winter. "We were really happy to participate in this project during this time of contingency."

As for the on-ground champions from November 2019, captain and tournament MVP Santiago Pallares Palomeque said that this challenge gave them a reason to come together again.

"We had a great (virtual) time getting this video together." he said to FISU. "Some of the guys are a little bit rusty due to the quarantine and that made it funny to watch their clips. We are a big group of friends and we chat on WhatsApp almost every day. This gave us the chance to change our daily topic of conversation!"

Voting for the second semi-final will begin on Thursday, 28 May, while the ‘digital’ champions will be crowned on Sunday, 31 May.

Whichever way the semi-finals go, one thing is for sure: the way the draw has shaped up, with Italy taking on Germany and Mexico against Uruguay in the last four, the final of the Team Challenge will be a befitting continental face-off between Europe and the Americas.

All videos can be viewed on FISU’s Instagram, Twitter and Facebook. For more information, or to get in touch with any of the participating teams, please contact media@fisu.net.

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