With just hours to go before kick-off in Peru, FIFA and the Local Organising Committee held a press conference in Lima in which several aspects of the 11th edition of the FIFA U-17 World Championship were discussed. From the expectation surrounding the host city of Iquitos to the use of artificial pitches and goal-line technology, we bring you a summary of the main issues addressed.
Jack Warner: FIFA vice-president and Chairman of the FIFA U-17 World Championship Organising Committee.
On the innovative measures in place for the tournament:
Many of the innovative ideas for this event have already been widely reported on. Following on from the successful experiment at Finland 2003, this will be the first FIFA tournament where all the pitches will be artificial. Then there is the suspension ruling, which states that a player will get an automatic one-game suspension on picking up three yellow cards and not two, as is the case in all other FIFA events. Lastly, there is the experimental microchip technology that has been developed by Adidas, which will be used to determine if the ball has crossed the goal line or not.
On the host city of Iquitos:
I have to admit that over the last month, nothing short of miracle has taken place in Iquitos to get the city ready to receive the finest young players in the world. It is truly uplifting and an example of what can be achieved when you believe in something. We applaud the efforts of the city authorities and would also like to say a special word of thanks to the people of Iquitos, whose efforts have finally resulted in (world-class) football coming to the Amazon.
On the possibility of Peru hosting a FIFA World Cup™ in the future:
In this life, if you can conceive something then you can also achieve it. However, because of the system of continental rotation that FIFA adheres to, the 2010 edition will be held in South Africa. It will not be the turn of South America again until 2014, which is why it is not yet possible to make an assessment on this matter.
FIFA General Secretary Urs Linsi.
On the start of the tournament:
After months of planning, meetings and inspections, we are all seated here ready for what is set to be a great tournament. I have to admit that I personally doubted we would be able to use Iquitos as a host city, but in the end they made it. Accordingly, we should congratulate the people of this city who made it possible, as well as all those who played their part in the preparation of the other host cities. Conditions were perfect for the arrival of the visiting teams, who have found exactly what they needed. Everything is in place for an excellent championship.
On the de-selection of the refereeing teams headed by Carlos Simón, Carlos Amarilla and Carlos Chandía:
As happens at every (FIFA) tournament, we carried out fitness and endurance tests on all the referees selected to arbitrate. Unfortunately, three of these did not pass. As the referees here will officiate all their games with the two same two assistants, failure of one team member means that all three have to be dropped. It is purely coincidental that the three teams affected in this case happened to be South American, and we would like to make it clear that the South American Football Confederation (CONMEBOL) has always had excellent referees. Yes, the news is regrettable, but we had the same situation at this year's FIFA World Youth Championship in the Netherlands, and there is really nothing we can do about it. What I can confirm is that alternative match officials will be provided by CONMEBOL. You have to remember how important this tournament is, which is why it is imperative we have referees in peak condition.
On the use of experimental goal-line technology:
The Laws of the Game are laid down by the International Football Association Board (IFAB), and only they have the authority to modify them. At their last AGM in Wales, they authorised FIFA to carry out an experiment with a ball containing a microchip that would quickly decide whether a ball had crossed the line or not. At the end of this tournament, the General Secretaries of the four British Football Associations and I, in my capacity as FIFA General Secretary, will put together a report on this matter and present it to the IFAB at their next meeting in Zurich in February. We need to understand that football, unlike many other sports, is dynamic, alive and above all, human. Applying this experimental measure for the duration of this tournament does not make football a technology-based game. It is simply that if the referee has a doubt, he can look at his watch where a signal will indicate whether the ball has crossed the line or not.
Manuel Burga, President of the Peruvian Football Federation.
On the significance of the tournament to the Peruvian public:
For us, it is an honour to share this task with FIFA and the Local Organising Committee (LOC). The collaboration began with the organization of the 2004 Copa América, and now here we are. We are also proud for Iquitos, which has come to be an emblem for this competition. FIFA have managed to bring (international) football to the Amazon thanks to the unstinting efforts and tenacity of the organisers. Now we will all be able to enjoy a spectacle of the highest quality that should greatly benefit Peruvian football.
On the help received from FIFA towards the development of Peruvian football:
FIFA's work in collaborating with countries most in need of their assistance should be recognised. We should not forget either that Peru has been fortunate enough to benefit from the FIFA Goal Project on two occasions, in addition to the five artificial pitches. All of this will be of enormous benefit to the future of our game.
Arturo Woodman, President of the Local Organizing Committee.
On the feelings of the organizers on the eve of the tournament:
We are satisfied with what we have done to date, although we will feel even better when the tournament concludes on 2 October. (Hopefully) we will be able to look back then and say we had full houses everywhere and everything went smoothly. That will be the moment of greatest satisfaction.