Following a meeting of the Local Organising Committee (LOC) for the FIFA U-20 World Cup Colombia 2011, two of the event’s key figures staged a press conference in Bogota on Wednesday. Rafael Salguero, Acting Chairman of the LOC and head of the FIFA delegation in Colombia, and Luis Bedoya, President of the LOC, were on hand to answer questions from reporters about the much-anticipated tournament. FIFA.com sums up the key points from the gathering.
Rafael Salguero, Acting Chairman of the Organising Committee of the FIFA U-20 World Cup and member of FIFA’s Executive Committee
On the expectations created by the tournament
The presence of so many journalists here today demonstrates the interest that exists in this year’s FIFA U-20 World Cup, a competition that many Colombians hope will be remembered as the best ever at this level. We’re here to provide the necessary support to achieve that goal. We’re aware that last time around in Egypt in 2009, 500million people all around the world watched this tournament on television, and it goes without saying that we’d like to surpass that. What we can confirm today is that nothing has been overlooked in terms of organisation. We’re ready for the big kick-off.
*On the various national squads’ initial impressions after spending a few days in Colombia
*According to our colleagues overseeing things at the different venues, all of the delegations are doing fine and like what they’ve seen. There have been no complaints of any kind about the accommodation, training pitches or stadiums, which look fantastic. So far, they have all expressed their satisfaction, been overcome by the contagious joy present here, and declared how extremely grateful they are for the hospitality shown to them by the Colombian people. *About rising stars in U-20 history
*Let me remind you that this competition is very important for the world of football. Here we've seen some of the biggest stars for the first time ever. We could mention Diego Maradona in 1979, Marco van Basten in 1983, even [Andres] Iniesta in 2003 or, the most famous at the moment, the one who's considered the best player in the world, Lionel Messi, in 2005. That's what it's all about when it comes to U-20, and that's where we can tell that the show is guaranteed.
Luis Bedoya, President of the Local Organising Committee and of the Colombian Football Association *On the significance of holding the tournament in Colombia
*Today we Colombians feel such pride and joy, after having been congratulated by FIFA for the way in which we have met all of the requirements that are necessary to organise an event of this magnitude. Everything is now in place for us to lay on the best FIFA U-20 World Cup in the history of the competition.
On the number of tickets still available
*It currently varies from city to city. At some venues, they’re already gone, while at others there are still some left. We would like to remind people that *Tu Boleta is taking care of ticket sales, and that they can purchase them online, over the phone or in person at ticket outlets. As of now, we’ve sold 800,000, but we still hope to beat the numbers recorded at Egypt 2009. Some cities have been a little slower on the uptake, like Cartagena, Manizales and Armenia, but we’re confident that fans there will react in time and fill the grounds. Our aim is full, happy and peaceful stadiums.
*On the legacy the tournament will leave the Colombian people
*There are lots of things that come to mind, but to sum up, I would say that the main thing is the world-class infrastructure funded by a joint investment from the state and from local government. But there’s more. Colombia has the chance to show the world the kind of country it really is; a great country, free of violence and other evils. In addition, Colombians now understand that events such as these can be achieved when the public and private sectors come together. There is always room to develop good ideas. And finally, let’s not forget the human resources that the tournament will leave in the hands of the FA: 32 area managers who have received the best possible training in various different countries. They represent the future.
*On the possibility of Colombia bidding for the FIFA World Cup
*Being the only country to have ever pulled out of hosting a FIFA World Cup™ is a heavy burden for Colombians to bear, and it’s something that FIFA and the football world remember well. Now it’s time to put that in the past by holding the greatest FIFA U-20 World Cup the game has ever seen. This competition is set to end on 20 August, and only then, if we achieve all of our goals, will we think about what steps we might take next. Today the prime objective is this tournament, but on 21 August we’ll see if we’re ready for more.