Representatives of the FIFA U-20 World Cup Turkey 2013's host cities, the Turkish government and the Turkish Football Federation (TFF) visited the Home of FIFA in Zurich on Thursday to meet with world football's governing body. During the meeting, the delegation joined with FIFA in signing a declaration expressing their commitment to do everything they can to organise the best tournament possible, in collaboration with FIFA and the TFF.
Officials representing the cities of Antalya, Bursa, Gaziantep, Istanbul, Kayseri, Rize and Trabzon all made the trip to the Home of FIFA to sign the document. The importance of their role was then underlined by FIFA Secretary General Jerome Valcke, who also put his name to the declaration. "For us, you are the most important people at the moment, because we must now advance to the second phase: the implementation of the competition in the host cities," he said.
For his part, FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter added that "the FIFA U-20 World Cup is not only FIFA's second oldest competition, it is also second in terms of the quality of play. This tournament introduced the world to players like Diego Maradona, Lionel Messi, Bebeto, Ronaldinho, Thierry Henry, Michael Owen and so many others. It's a fantastic platform for the discovery of new talents."
Representing his country's Minister of Sports, Turkish Director General of Sports Mehmet Baykan was another signatory of the declaration, and he praised "FIFA's positive approach to this competition. In our country, we appreciate all sports, but football clearly occupies its own special place. I can assure you that the Turkish government, whoever is in power, is 100 per cent committed to supporting the Local Organising Committee."
Senes Erzik has a foot in both camps as a FIFA Executive Committee member and Honorary President of the TFF, and he echoed his dual role by thanking "FIFA and its President for the trust it has shown all these years. I guarantee you that Turkey will be a remarkable host."
TFF vice-president Servet Yardimci made a similar point. "Turkey is totally ready to welcome this event," he said, before adding: "I'm convinced that this World Cup will prove hugely inspiring for the youth of our country."
President Blatter brought the occasion to a close with a message of hope, while also speaking to the Turkish representatives of their responsibility: "For you, this is an opportunity to demonstrate Turkey's ability to organise a major sporting event. And finally it is a way – and a responsibility – to prove football's socio-cultural role, because this sport can contribute to a better world by bringing different peoples together."
In the afternoon, the representatives of the Turkish host cities were then given a presentation by various FIFA officials of the next steps to be taken, and also of the immense opportunity that the tournament represents for them in promotional terms.