Mosconi Cup set to be staged in Malta for first time

Tony Drago

The 2008 Mosconi Cup will be staged in Malta for the first time ever.

A press conference was held on Friday to announce the event, which will feature five-man teams from Europe and America battling it out in one of pool's most prestigious competitions.

"On behalf of Matchroom Sport, I am delighted to announce that the 15th annual Mosconi Cup will take place at the Hilton Hotel in Portomaso from Thursday 11th to Sunday 14th December," said Barry Hearn, Chairman of Matchroom Sport.

"The Mosconi Cup has developed into a major sporting occasion and I'm very pleased to have the opportunity to stage the event in Malta.

"This has been made possible by the performances of Tony Drago, who I believe has turned himself into one of the five best pool players in the world following a decade of hard work, practice and great natural talent.

"The Mosconi Cup is a team game though, and the spirit within the respective camps will play a big part in determining the eventual destination of the trophy."

"For those used to snooker, the only thing that the Mosconi has in common is balls, sticks and a table.

"The crowds are more akin to football or boxing than the polite applause associated with the green baize.

"Things often get a little heated between the two teams but that's the way the tournament is and we wouldn't want it any other way.

"Anyone who has visited the Mosconi Cup before or seen it live on TV will know the event has an atmosphere all of its own."

"That is solely down to the fantastic fans that come to be part of the event and give as much as they receive.

"Intimidating, dramatic, noisy, excitable, passionate and thrilling are just a few words to describe this magnificent tournament. I believe that all of these will apply when the Mosconi Cup gets underway here in Malta in December.

The press conference was introduced by Joe Zammit, on behalf of Snooker Promotions.

He added: "First of all I would like to thank Mr Barry Hearn and Matchroom Sport for their confidence in Snooker Promotions in entrusting us with the local organization of the event.

"Although this is not snooker, we know this event will be as highly successful and as popular with all our previous events.

"Once again, we have had the co-operation from our long time sponsors, Air Malta, and the Hilton Malta, which has enabled us to put together a package which will bring over yet another top class sporting event to our islands."

Richard Balani, director of Snooker Promotions, then gave more details on the event and how it came to be staged in Malta.

"Most people know us for the fact that we have been staging world class snooker events in Malta for the past 14 years," said Balani.

"The success of our events has been acknowledged far and wide, both in Malta, as well as overseas.

"I'm sure that our snooker success story was highly instrumental in convincing Matchroom Sport to consider Malta, and Snooker Promotions, for the staging of the Mosconi Cup.

"Our last snooker event, the Malta Cup 2008, attracted no less than 72 per cent of our total live audience from overseas, and, while we do not initially expect such a big overseas audience participation, we're sure we'll be highly successful in attracting pool fans from all over the world to come to Malta to watch the Mosconi Cup."

"We will be working with our travel partners, Fraser Eagle Allevents, to offer simple online booking facilities for all these pool fans who may wish to attend the Mosconi Cup, and these facilities are available as from today on

"Our own website will be offering tickets only for sale from October 1, on

"If you also consider the fact that the event will also be broadcast live all around the world, then the event is certainly a guaranteed success, even if the sport is relatively new to Maltese fans. We have all been tremendously please by the success achieved by Tony Drago, first in snooker, and now in pool, and I am sure many people will want to know more about the Mosconi Cup."

During its 15-year history, the Mosconi Cup has evolved from an entertaining exhibition event in its early days into a life-or-death struggle contested by the very best pool players in the world.

Styled on golf's highly successful Ryder Cup, the Mosconi Cup, so named after one of the sport's all-time greats, Willie Mosconi, involves a series of singles and doubles matches played over four highly explosive days.

Two five-man teams representing the United States and Europe will gather to do battle in what has evolved into pool's biggest test of nerves and character. Plenty of superstars of the game have crumbled in the pressure-cooker environment as moments of high drama unwind.

Since it's inception in 1994, Europe has only won the competition three times - in 1995, 2002 and last year in Las Vegas. It was a memorable victory as they overcame a shaky start to dominate the second half of the event with some outstanding individual performances.

Once again, Sky Sports are producing the show as the event is beamed live in the UK from start to finish. Also taking the Mosconi Cup live is Showtime covering the Middle East, and highlights packages will broadcast on a host of stations around the world including Fox Net in the USA.

Malta's Tony Drago, who won the Most Valuable Player award at last year's event, will be making his second appearance this December.

The 42 year-old from Valletta sealed his spot earlier in the year following wins in the Paris Open on the EuroTour and then the Predator International 10 Ball Championship in Las Vegas.