The Dallas Cup International Youth Soccer Tournament is considered to be one of the most prestigious youth tournaments in the world. Its reputation over the years has attracted many of the top international and USA clubs to send their youth teams to compete in the week long competition held each year in Dallas Texas. The Elite U19 Super Group has hosted the “who’s who” of world soccer
The Dallas Cup International Youth Soccer Tournament is considered to be one of the most prestigious youth tournaments in the world. Its reputation over the years has attracted many of the top international and USA clubs to send their youth teams to compete in the week long competition held each year in Dallas Texas. The Elite U19 Super Group has hosted the “who’s who” of world soccer with Real Madrid, Sao Paulo, River Plate, Manchester United, Ajax, Club America, Chelsea, Eintracht Frankfurt, Moscow Dynamos and Liverpool to name just a few of the clubs that have sent the cream of their young talent to represent them at Dallas Cup. The list of outstanding world renowned players that commenced their soccer careers playing in the Dallas Cup is a tremendous credit to the esteem in which the tournament is held throughout the world of soccer. David Beckham, Raul, Michael Owen, Robinho, Wayne Rooney, Landon Donavan, Howard Kewell, Kleberson, Jamie Moreno, Rafael Garcia and Claudio Reyna all showed their talents as young players on the soccer fields of Dallas.
Great clubs and great players all bring top recognition to the Dallas Cup but one very important aspect of the tournament that too often goes unnoticed, and which is so important to the success of the tournament, is the outstanding group of the game officials that make up the “Dallas Cup Referee Family”. Like the list of world class players mentioned earlier, top FIFA referees who have officiated at Dallas Cup, many with World Cup appointments, represent the “who’s who” of referees in the world of soccer. During the 30+ year history of the tournament Abraham Klein (Israel), Jose Maria Garcia-Aranda (Spain), Peter Mikkelsen (Denmark), Antonio Marrufo (Mexico), Carlos Batres (Guatemala), Stuart Dougal (Scotland), Hugh Dallas (Scotland), Dougie McDonald (Scotland), Kim Milton Nielsen (Denmark), Massimo Busacca (Switzerland), Esse Baharmast (USA), Brian Hall (USA), Jair Marrufo (USA), Terry Vaughn (USA) and Baldomero Toledo (USA) are among those that have taken part in the tournament. These officials did not appear in Dallas just by chance. Over the years the Dallas Cup organization led by Tournament Manager Randy Jones has built excellent relationships with soccer federations around the world and thanks to his assistance and cooperation of those federations the Dallas Cup has without a doubt had the finest game officials of any youth tournament in the world.
That support from the Federations was backed up by two of the most important events in the history of the Dallas Cup, events that took game officiating at the tournament to a new level. In 1996 two English Football referees, Trevor Simpson and Mike Hickling who had attended the Dallas Cup for a number of years, were able to have the English Football League recognize the Dallas Cup as an outstanding International Youth Tournament and the FL selected two young up and coming referees Mike Riley and Graham Barber to represent the FL and make the trip to Dallas. It is interesting to note that both referees went on to reach the highest level as members of the FIFA referee panel and today Mike Riley still wears the FIFA “white badge” officiating top International and English Premier League games. Martin Atkinson, Andre Mariner and Stuart Atwell also represented the FL at Dallas Cup and subsequently joined the FIFA panel. Phil Doud is also currently patrolling the fields of the Premier League. That relationship between the FL and the Dallas Cup has continued to grow and now encompasses the involvement of PGMOL under the direction of Keith Hackett sending FL referees to Dallas each year. In 2004 the second very important event took place as long serving Dallas Cup English referee George McCaffrey decided to “hang up the whistle” and to direct his efforts to developing young referees from different English county soccer associations. With the support of these associations George’s first “referee academy” group arrived at Dallas Cup. Over the past four years that group has increased each year and George has been supported by Barry Gee in the coaching role. In 2009 twelve young UK referees along with FA Regional Manager Alan Wilkie will join with George and Barry to hold their academy at Dr Pepper Dallas Cup XXX. Like the development of players such as David Beckham and co at the Dallas Cup the same progress has occurred with game officials. Numerous young referees who where level 4 and below at their first Dallas Cup appearances have risen to more senior levels as their officiating careers have developed. The success of these programs brought about by the FL, the PGMOL and the FA has been instrumental in assisting the Dallas Cup to build relationships with National Federations around the world and now officials from Switzerland, Scotland, Peru, Japan, Hungary, Qatar, Canada, Australia and New Zealand attend Dallas Cup each year.
Thanks to the actions of Trevor Simpson, Mike Hickling and George McCaffrey supported by the FL, the PGMOL and the FA the Dallas Cup boast that its game officiating is the best at any youth tournament in the world. A boast for sure “but then that is Texas” and if you do not believe it just visit Dallas Cup any Easter.