A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Colombian coastal city of Cartagena is busying itself for the Official Draw for the FIFA U-20 World Cup Colombia 2011, which takes place on Wednesday evening. The eagerly anticipated event begins at 20.00 local time at the Julio Cesar Turbay Ayala Convention Centre and will see the 24 contenders to Ghana’s crown drawn into six groups of four.
Luck of the draw
The draw will also decide which games are played where and will reveal the identity of the two sides that will get the tournament underway in Barranquilla on 29 July. “We're absolutely delighted to be staging this event in a city as famous as Cartagena,” the President of the Colombian Football Association and the Colombia 2011 Local Organising Committee, Luis H. Bedoya Giraldo, told FIFA.com.
“We've worked very hard to show the world all the great things this country has to offer, a country full of good, hard-working people and one which is ready to host a historic World Cup,” added Bedoya, who will have the honour of welcoming some of world football’s foremost dignitaries to Cartagena.
The compère for the evening will be Carolina Gomez, a well-known Colombian actress, model and conductor. Among the many leading figures taking part in the ceremony are former Colombia internationals Oscar Cordoba and Carlos Valderrama, the Mayor of Cartagena Judith Pinedo, and the talented Yoreli Rincón, one of the stars of the Colombia side that will travel to the FIFA Women’s World Cup Germany 2011™.
Making sure everything goes well with a swing will be Colombian singer Jorge Celedon, who will perform the official tournament song Nuestra Fiesta (Our Party). “The song will give the tournament an identity and get the whole country dancing,” Bedoya said earlier this month.
A glittering guest list
More than 600 guests and nearly 200 journalists are expected to attend the convention centre. Among them will be some of Colombia’s most prominent footballing and sporting celebrities, such as the country’s national team coach Hernan Dario Gomez and one of his predecessors, Francisco Maturana, not to mention high-ranking officials from the Colombian and global football families.
Heading the list will be FIFA vice-president Jack Warner, who is also the President of the Organising Committee for the FIFA U-20 World Cup, and FIFA’s Director of Competitions Mustapha Fahmy, while a number of national FA presidents will also be making their way to Cartagena along with CONMEBOL President Nicolas Leoz.
They will be joined by the President of Colombia Juan Manuel Santos, his Vice-President Angelino Garzon, and representatives from the eight venues and 24 finalists for an event that Bedoya anticipates will be “an unforgettable celebration for Colombian football”.
The third South American country to host the FIFA U-20 World Cup after Chile in 1987 and Argentina in 2001, Colombia will be staging games at eight different cities: Armenia, Barranquilla, Bogota, Cali, Cartagena, Manizales, Medellin and Pereira. Following the Official Draw, the eight venues will be inspected by delegations representing the 24 participating nations.
Follow the draw live here
As is always the case on occasions like this, FIFA.com will be on hand to bring you all the news from Cartagena as it happens, including the Official Draw itself plus analysis and reactions from those present.