Chile's President, Michelle Bachelet, yesterday (Wednesday, 28 February) expressed her full support for her country's hosting of the FIFA U-20 Women's World Cup in 2008 at a reception for a FIFA delegation led by FIFA Executive Committee member and Organising Committee chairman Chuck Blazer (USA) at the Government Palace in Santiago. "We are looking forward with enthusiasm to this competition and we can assure you that everything will be ready to host the event," said the Chilean President to FIFA and LOC representatives, who have conducted a week-long inspection visit of the South American country.
President Bachelet, who will be honorary president of the Local Organising Committee (LOC), indicated that the competition could serve to boost the practice of sport, particularly amongst women, something which she said is fundamental for her country. "We are aware of the importance of this event and we have given our full support to it, including the budget necessary to make it possible," she added.
Having concluded an inspection visit of several towns and cities all over the country, Chuck Blazer stressed that there was a considerable amount of work to be done, especially in upgrading the condition of the stadiums. "We are very pleased with the warm and hospitable welcome from all the people we have met, although I am surprised that the tremendous progress we have seen in various areas, such as the highways and airports, is not reflected in the state of the stadiums. Nevertheless, we have received a promise of commitment from local, regional and government officials, and I am confident in the ability of Chile to host a fantastic World Cup," he said.
"The growth of our sport in the coming years will be particularly great in the women's game. This World Cup provides a huge opportunity for Chileans to see the best players in the world, the future stars of the women's game, and to experience very exciting and high-quality football. It is our intention that this event serve to leave a lasting legacy in Chile, and especially to women's football in the country, and this event is a great chance to do this," he concluded.
This first inspection visit ends today (Thursday, 1 March), when the last two of the twelve stadiums in the programme will be examined by the FIFA delegation. Sixteen teams, comprising representatives from all six confederations, will take part in the final competition next year, in which Chile has a guaranteed place as the host nation. The dates of the event will be confirmed by the FIFA Executive Committee at its next meeting in March.