Harry Been never stays still for long. General Secretary of the Dutch Football Association (KNVB) and former co-director of UEFA Euro 2000, his latest role is Tournament Director of the 2005 FIFA World Youth Championship, which the Netherlands will host from 10 June to 2 July 2005. Been recently took some time out of his hectic schedule to talk to FIFA.com
How did the KNVB go about structuring the organisation of the 2005 FIFA World Youth Championship?
Harry Been: First of all, we’ll be drawing on our experience of hosting Euro 2000. One of our main concerns was to draw a clear distinction between the running of this tournament and other KNVB activities so as not to confuse the public and our partners. That’s why we set up a separate body specifically for the 2005 FIFA World Youth Championship. That also enables us to hire staff to concentrate exclusively on this tournament, while the KNVB can carry on handling its events. The KNVB enjoys an excellent image here in the Netherlands, and hosting a FIFA competition can only make it more effective and efficient.
What is your budget for this event?
It’s between 10 and 12 million euros. Our expenditure covers receiving the teams, and paying match officials and the various FIFA teams responsible for supervising matters. We also have to provide for transport, stadium rental, and the remuneration and expenses of the Local Organising Committee. Our income comes mainly from a FIFA allowance, ticket sales, and a range of commercial rights contributed by our suppliers and partners.
How did you select the host cities?
FIFA announced on 17 December 2002 that we would host the tournament and we immediately issued an invitation to tender. We specified that we would choose no more than six cities, and ruled out those that had hosted Euro 2000 matches. We then described our selection criteria, which included the relative enthusiasm of the candidate cities and whether or not the cities could or have offered other, non-footballing social and cultural activities. And of course, we also assessed the quality of the sporting and urban infrastructure.
Did many cities apply?
We were amazed at the response! No less than 24 places expressed their interest. We examined all applications and identified the top ten. Then, on 20 January 2004, we decided to add to the excitement by holding a press conference and announcing the lucky six one-by-one, like in big awards ceremonies. KNVB President Mathieu Sprengers and national team manager Dick Advocaat opened the first envelope and declared, “and the winners are ...Doetinchem.” The representatives of that city duly jumped for joy, and then the names of the other successful bidders were revealed, prompting similar celebrations from Emmen, Tilburg, Entschede, Kerkrade, and Utrecht.
What will the Netherlands be hoping to get out of this competition?
Our first objective is to put on an even better spectacle than in 2000. We are also eager to show that our small or medium-sized cities can accommodate very high-level competitions when given the chance. It is also crucial that we make sure that the young footballers are at the centre of the event – fans will be able to see football in all its diversity, since every team at this level has its own unique playing style.
What are your expectations for the tournament itself?
This event is all about promoting youth football and will be very useful for the Netherlands. We have set very modest ticket prices so that as many young people as possible can come and watch the games – a €5 ticket is valid for two consecutive matches in the same stadium. We want to see a skilful tournament played in a festive atmosphere and enjoyed by as many people as possible. Making that happen is a thrilling challenge.