Mexico City, one of the world’s largest and most cosmopolitan of cities, is busy readying itself for the Official Draw for the FIFA U-17 World Cup. The eagerly anticipated event begins this Tuesday 17 May at 13.00 local time (18.00 CET) at the famous Sala Nezahualcoyotl concert hall and will see the fate of the 24 qualified teams become clearer as they are drawn into six groups of four in the hunt for Switzerland’s world crown.
The draw will also decide which games are played where and will reveal the identity of the sides that will get the competition underway in Morelia and Monterrey on 18 June. The Final game and the third-place match on 10 July will be contested on no less a platform than the hulking and iconic Estadio Azteca.
The massive stadium, which can hold over 105,000 spectators and is the only ground to have hosted two FIFA World Cup finals, will be the stage for the tournament’s crowning moments. “It’s a temple of football, and there is nowhere better for this occasion,” was the assessment of Local Organising Committee President and head of Mexico’s Football Association, Justino Compean. “To run out on a pitch of such symbolism is an incredible opportunity,” added Gio Dos Santos, a former youth hero for Mexico and now one of its top senior players.
The Draw will be hosted by renowned commentators Aline Arnot and Marco Antonio Regil, who will be assisted in their duties by Ximena Navarrete, the Mexican model who holds the title of Miss Universe for 2010. The entire ceremony, which will include performances by Coir and Orchestra Sinfonica Esperanza Azteca Puebla, will be televised live by Mexican broadcaster Televisa.
A glittering guest list
More than 600 guests and nearly 200 journalists, both local and international, are expected to attend the Official Draw. Among them will be a host of Mexico’s most prominent footballing and sporting celebrities and high-profile guests from across the world.
Headlining the list of dignitaries will be FIFA vice-president Jack Warner, who is also the President of the Organising Committee for the FIFA U-17 World Cup, LOC President and CONCACAF Vice-President Compean, high-profile guests from the Mexican government and the six host cities, and representatives from 24 finalists. The draw itself, which is the true star of the show, will be followed by a press conference featuring Mexico’s U-17 head coach and former Mexico defender Raul Gutierrez.
A familiar destination
This year’s FIFA U-17 World Cup will be the fifth time that Mexico has hosted a FIFA competition. This beautiful and football-mad country has proven its quality in staging major events, including the FIFA World Cups of 1970 and 1986. Mexico also developed a special relationship with this particular junior competition in 2005 in Peru, when a side led by Dos Santos and Carlos Vela were crowned world champions and returned home as conquering heroes.
Mexico 2011 will be the 14th edition of the FIFA U-17 World Cup and will be played from 18 June to 10 July 2011 in the cities of Guadalajara, Monterrey, Morelia, Torreon, Pachuca, Queretaro and Mexico City. Among the contenders for the title will be traditional powerhouses such as three-time champions Brazil, Argentina, USA and Germany as well as first-timers and spirited hopefuls Panama, Rwanda and Uzbekistan. Hosts Mexico are among the favourites, having prepared exhaustively for the competition. Switzerland won the last U-17 title in Nigeria in 2009 but have failed to qualify this time around.
News, analysis and reaction
As is always the case on occasions like this, FIFA.com will be on hand to bring you all the news from Mexico City, including the Official Draw itself plus analysis and reactions from those present.