Six-time winners Aston Villa and defending back-to-back champions Newcastle United will headline a cast of Premier League clubs who have signed up for next month’s Citi Soccer Sevens, as the prestigious event returns to Hong Kong for the first time in four years.
The three-day tournament, which was postponed because of the coronavirus pandemic, will run from May 26 to 28 and feature 26 teams across a main event and masters tournament at Hong Kong Football Club.
Sixteen teams will compete in the main competition, with Aston Villa looking to win a record-extending seventh title and their first since 2016, while Newcastle will be aiming to become the first club to win the trophy at three consecutive events.
“We are delighted to be returning to the HKFC Citi Soccer Sevens next month,” Mark Harrison, Aston Villa’s academy manager, said. “We are looking forward to defending our record at the tournament and our players and staff are excited to come and experience all that the tournament has to offer.
“We know from previous years what wonderful opportunities lie ahead both on and off the pitch. We would like to offer our best wishes to all of those involved and we look forward to seeing you all very soon.”
Other clubs coming to take part include Leicester City, who have won the event twice, as well as Brighton & Hove Albion and Fulham.
They will be joined by Scottish giants Rangers as well as a Hong Kong Football Association representative side, while domestic champions Kitchee and WoFoo Tai Po will fly the flag for the city’s top flight.
In the master’s tournament, the Citi All Stars will take on defending champions Wallsend Boys Club in a 10-team event that will also boast sides representing the Portuguese Football Association and the Professional Footballers’ Association.
Neil Jensen, the HKFC chairman, said the club was “absolutely thrilled” to bring the Soccer Sevens back to the city and “once again welcome our friends and colleagues to Asia’s world city”.
“The last three years have been challenging for everyone, but the love of football runs deep in Hong Kong and we are looking forward to seeing some of the finest young talent in the global game back on the pitch at Hong Kong Football Club,” the chairman said.
This year’s HKFC Citi Soccer Sevens will be the 21st edition of the competition, which was first held in 1999, and is the 10th tournament to be supported by Citi, with the company’s sponsorship of the tournament extending back to 2011.
“We are honoured and excited to be supporting this much-anticipated and always-entertaining competition again after a three-year break,” Chris Long, Citi Hong Kong’s chief administration officer, said.
“The Soccer Sevens has a rich history in Hong Kong and we thank the Hong Kong Football Club for bringing the tournament back, connecting the community, fans and some amazing players from all over the world.”
The draw for next month’s event will be conducted with the help of former England and Newcastle United striker Les Ferdinand at the Hong Kong Football Club on April 26 and the action will kick off with the masters tournament a month later. The main competition begins on May 27, with both competitions running through until May 28.