Gerrard, Pires, Okocha among stars for 6-a-side tournament

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Steven Gerrard, Robert Pires and Jay-Jay Okocha are among the star names lined up for a six-a-side international tournament to be launched in London next summer.

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Star Sixes, which will take place at London’s O2 Arena from July 13-16 next year, will feature Brazil, Spain, Germany, Mexico, Italy, France, England, Portugal, Australia, Nigeria, Netherlands and China.

Carles Puyol, Michael Ballack and Deco have also been confirmed for the tournament, which organisers said would be made up entirely of “recently retired fully capped international” players. Games are set to be played over 30 minutes and the tournament will feature a group stage followed by a knockout round.

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Future events are planned for arenas in Berlin, Istanbul, Beijing, Sydney, Miami and Seattle.

Jonathan Rogers, the managing director of organisers Pitch International, said: “The long-term objective of Star Sixes is simple. We intend it to become ingrained within the global football calendar as the premier event for retired international footballers, in effect, the ‘World Cup for Legends.’”

Speaking to Reuters, Rogers added: “There’s no big tournament next year so it’s a chance for fans to get behind their national teams and the quality will be high. We need about 120 players and they are all fully capped internationals. We have a number signed up and are very close to a number of others.

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“We recognise that a lot of these guys are in demand in the media and in ambassador roles so we’ll look at next summer, at international breaks, times when they are available.”

Former France star Pires, a World Cup and European Championship winner, told Reuters it was “a privilege and an honour” to have the chance to represent his country again.

The 42-year-old former Arsenal winger, who announced his retirement in February, added: “I think it will be really good to watch. The standard will be high and the competitiveness will be there but I think we’re all probably quite pleased the games are 30 minutes and not 90.”

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