Making a four-day visit to Colombia this week, FIFA representatives have engaged in discussions with the Local Organising Committee (LOC) on preparations for the upcoming FIFA Futsal World Cup, to be held in the country between 10 September and 1 October.

The inspection visit began on Tuesday in Ibague, where FIFA Event Manager Jaime Yarza, LOC Chairman and Colombian Football Association (FCF) General Manager Rodrigo Cobo, and Perla Alvarez of the Colombian Administrative Department of Sport (Coldeportes) met with the local authorities to check on the progress of construction work at the city’s new mini stadium.

Following the inspection it was decided that the city should be removed from the list of venues, which leaves Bucaramanga, Medellin and Cali as the tournament’s three host cities. The decision was announced at the press conference that concluded the inspection visit at the FCF’s headquarters in Bogota on Friday.

“In sharing the views of the Colombian FA, the mayor and Coldeportes, we felt it was impossible for Ibague to continue as a host city of the World Cup,” Yarza told the assembled media. “The previous administration failed to act on the promises it made and we have decided not to take any risks. We regret this course of action but it was the most prudent decision.”

Green light for other venues
The visit continued on Tuesday with a stopover in Bucaramanga, which, like the other two venues, will now host two groups.

“The authorities have made a positive commitment,” said FIFA Head of Futsal and Beach Soccer Kasra Haghighi. “Mayor Rodolfo Hernandez has every confidence that they can deliver a venue offering the perfect conditions for hosting the event. The next few months are crucial in terms of adapting the arena in a number of areas. There is still a lot that remains to be done and we are working with the LOC to ensure that everything is completed on time and in the correct manner.”

The following day the delegation moved on to Medellin, which will host one of the semi-finals. Giving a presentation at the city’s Atanasio Girardot Sports Complex, the local authorities presented a schedule for refurbishment and construction work at the Coliseo Ivan de Bedout. The delegation also had the opportunity to check the progress being made in other areas, and made note of the need for mandatory further work in the training fields, an issue common to all venues.

“Medellin has shown progress” said Yarza. “We are working with the city, the FCF and Coldeportes in fine-tuning but there are several details and modifications that need to be made to ensure that the tournament is a success. We are now awaiting completion, in February, of legal procedures relating to the tender process so that we can purchase materials and begin construction and refurbishment work.”

On Thursday the delegation travelled to Cali, the venue for the other semi-final and the final day of the competition, where it was welcomed by Mayor Maurice Armitage and a city hall working group responsible for issues relating to the organisation of the tournament. Giving his opinion on the visit to the city, Cobo said: “We leave Cali satisfied with the progress made with construction work in the last few months and with the firm commitment the local authorities have made in taking on the major challenge of staging the FIFA Futsal World Cup.”

The visit concluded on Friday with the aforementioned press conference.