Following a meeting of the Organising Committee of the FIFA U-20 World Cup Colombia 2011, a press conference was held in Bogota on Friday 19 August. In attendance were FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter, as well as Rafael Salguero, Acting Chairman of the Organising Committee of the FIFA U-20 World Cup and head of the FIFA delegation in Colombia, and Luis Bedoya, President of the Local Organising Committee. FIFA.com reviews the topics of note covered during the session.
FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter
On the high-quality manner in which the FIFA U-20 World Cup has been organised
It’s fair to say that Colombia has organised a tremendous World Cup, with the words ‘Under-20' placed in brackets after that, because the tournament has been as good as some of FIFA’s top senior competitions. A new attendance record will be set, and we are now in a position to say clearly that Colombia is ready to hold the FIFA World Cup™ one day. They may have to wait until 2026, given that the 2014, 2018 and 2022 events already have a designated host nation, but the U-20 version has certainly been of some consolation to a country that was awarded the 1986 senior tournament, but later had to pull out.
On Colombia’s refurbished stadiums and the tournament legacy
When stadiums are built, they shouldn’t just be for playing football – if they can be used to hold other events, that’s something we like to see. It must be highlighted that the fences were taken down, which is very positive for the fans. Let’s hope that they stay down in the future. As for the importance of the tournament to Colombia, it’s clear that football has managed to bring Colombians closer together. They showed that they have a great country, and not just in football terms. It’s a multicultural nation where many people live side by side, which does not prevent them from offering the most hospitable of welcomes to visitors. All of the delegations that took part in the competition were touched by the warmth of the Colombian people.
On the possibility of Colombia organising the FIFA Women’s World Cup™
Colombia would be more than capable of staging such an event, even more so when you take into account the fact future tournaments will include 24 teams. I believe it would represent a great success for South America, where women’s football does not enjoy great backing. Many young girls are keen to play the game but cannot take it any further due to cultural factors. It’s important to understand that football is not just for boys or for men.
On the level of football on display at the FIFA U-20 World Cup
It’s difficult to compare youth tournaments because the teams change so much every two years. We’ve seen fewer goals here than in previous events, but that can be explained by the fact that the gap has narrowed between all of the teams taking part. They all prepared for the tournament like professionals and that showed in the tight matches and close results. I’m hopeful that the sides participating in the final matchday on Saturday will attack and put on a great show.
On the players that most caught his eye during the event
The names that stuck in my mind were those that have been playing in the latter stages over the last few days. I’ve seen some very good players, like Brazil’s Henrique, a great footballer. Colombia’s James Rodriguez also has the makings of a future star. But I can’t leave out Enriquez of Mexico, the Frenchman Fofana and Mika, Portugal’s goalkeeper, who’s yet to concede a goal. We’ve seen some top talents.
Rafael Salguero, Chairman of the Organising Committee of the FIFA U-20 World Cup and member of FIFA’s Executive Committee
On what FIFA will take away from Colombia 2011
Overall, FIFA is enormously satisfied with the way in which the tournament has progressed. We realised from the outset how well everything had been organised and how much work had been put in by each of the committees responsible for hosting the event. They said it would be best in the history of the event, and today I can confirm that that is indeed the case.
Luis Bedoya, President of the Local Organising Committee and of the Colombian Football Association
On the recognition of Colombia by FIFA
FIFA recognising our country has been extremely important. And for something to be done right, you need an opportunity to show that you’re capable of doing it. FIFA gave us that opportunity and we’re proud to say that we did it. We said that we’d produce the best FIFA U-20 World Cup ever, and that’s what we achieved.
On the legacy the tournament will leave Colombian football
I’m excited to see what effect this competition will have on Colombia. There’s been a total change of mentality in the behaviour of the fans present in the stadiums. The fences have come down, and that’s something we’d like to stick with from now on. Children and families have come back to games. Hopefully these kinds of things will last and offer a better future for football in our country.