The FIFA U-17 World Cup Mexico 2011 Trophy Tour got underway in appropriately grand style in Mexico City on Sunday, with a presentation in front of a packed Estadio Azteca, the venue for the tournament final on 10 July.
The trophy took pride of place on the pitch prior to the kick-off of the latest staging of El Clásico Joven (the New Derby), as the big-city rivalry between America and Cruz Azul is known. As the home team, Águilas fans earlier had the chance to line-up and have their photos taken with the cup, which was won by Mexico’s youngsters in thrilling style at Peru 2005.
Switzerland are the current holders, having deposed 2007 champions Nigeria two years ago, and will be intent on defending their world crown when the tournament begins on 18 June.
The presentation ended when the trophy was put on show in the centre circle, with a capacity 100,000-crowd looking on. Attending the event were Yon de Luisa, the Director of the Mexico 2011 Local Organising Committee (LOC); Justino Compean, the President of the LOC and the Mexican Football Association; Michel Bauer, the President of Club America; and Hector Gonzalez Inarritu, the General Manager of Mexico’s national teams.
“It’s a dream come true for us to be starting our Trophy Tour of all the venues,” said de Luisa. “Kicking off here at the Estadio Azteca is a very clear sign of our commitment and gives the fans a sense of what it means to be hosting the World Cup.”
Compean also expressed his delight at the occasion: “It’s very important to begin here because this is where the grand final will be held. Mexico won this prize at Peru 2005 and now we want to hold it aloft not once but twice: as the hosts and as a competing nation. We’re going to be paying a visit to all the venues, not just the ones where Mexico is playing.”
The schedule for the rest of the Trophy Tour is as follows:
Torreon: 19-20 March
Morelia: 2-3 April
Guadalajara: 9-10 April
Queretaro: 12-13 April (midweek)
Pachuca: 15-16 April
Monterrey: 29-30 April
Mexico City: 6-8 May (no game)