The countdown to the start of the FIFA U-17 World Cup Mexico 2011 continued on Thursday when FIFA and the Local Organising Committee held a press conference on the tournament. In attendance were FIFA Secretary General Jerome Valcke, the Acting President of the Local Organising Committee, David Chung, and LOC Director Yon de Luisa. rounds up what they had to say about the competition.

David Chung, Acting President of the Local Organising Committee
On preparations in the Host Cities
Many months of hard work, cooperation and support are now bearing fruit. The Organising Committee has done a tremendous job and all we have to do now is wait for the tournament to begin. I’d like to thank all the people of Mexico, the Mexican Football Association, LOC President Justino Compean, and LOC Director Yon de Luisa.

Jerome Valcke, FIFA Secretary General
On the importance of the tournament to the development of world football
When we talk about the World Cup we normally talk about the senior teams, but competitions such as this U-17 World Cup here in Mexico and the upcoming U-20 World Cup in Colombia are very important. The players who perform at the top of their game here will be the ones we’ll be seeing in their national teams in the future. That’s why it’s so important for us to organise events like this, for both men and women and all over the world.

On FIFA’s expectations for Mexico 2011
All the previous U-17 World Cups have been superbly organised, including the one in Nigeria. Mexico has set a very high standard and everything has gone perfectly from the very start. We sincerely hope their team does as well as they did in 2005.

On a new rule to be introduced at the tournament
We’ve decided to scrap extra time for both sexes in this age group, the idea being to protect players and referees. Any drawn games will go straight to penalties.

On doping controls
We are organising tests at each of the venues and for each game. That’s compulsory at all FIFA tournaments, and both players and match officials are tested.

The players who perform at the top of their game here will be the ones we’ll be seeing in their national teams in the future.

Jerome Valcke, FIFA Secretary General

On the positive drugs tests for five players from Mexico’s senior team
Whenever you get a case like this, where five players have tested positive for Clenbuterol, the first thing you do is set up an investigation, which is taking place right now. Then you have to wait for it to be completed to find out if the players are guilty or not. It’s very strange to see so many players testing positive for a substance like this at the same time, but both FIFA and WADA have decided that these footballers cannot play for the time being.

Given that we still don’t know if it was an accident or not, FIFA has authorised CONCACAF to allow Mexico to replace these five players at the Gold Cup. It isn't a very effective drug, and that’s why this case raises so many questions.

On the issue of security
The figures are a cause for concern, but this is such an important issue that you can’t just boil it down to numbers. At every press conference we had on South Africa we were asked how we could possibly organise a World Cup with the levels of violence they had, and now they’re asking the same thing about Brazil. We have the highest level of security here in Mexico, both inside and outside the stadiums, though we are here not to bring security to the country as a whole but to the media, fans, players and officials involved in the tournament. The authorities have given us a lot of help in this respect.  

Yon de Luisa, Director of the Local Organising Committee
On expectations of the Host Cities and ticket sales
The opening game of this World Cup will kick off in a few hours and we are very proud to welcome the whole world to the Estadio Morelos de Morelia, in Michoacan. Tickets for the game are sold out, and we have sold over two thirds of the tickets for the event as a whole. As the Organising Committee we are very happy about that.

We are confident that the remaining third will be sold during the course of the tournament, especially now that the LOC has given permission to sell tickets on matchdays in line with a series of security requirements.

On the issue of security
For the last two years we have been working on a national security plan encompassing the seven Host Cities, working hand in hand with the national government and complying with the relevant legislation. We are ready to welcome the 24 participating teams, the FIFA delegation and all visitors to the tournament.

On security expenditure
This World Cup will not be profit-making. Security is being covered on an independent basis and every Host City is responsible for it. The states all cover state-wide security, while national security is the responsibility of the Mexican government.

On the issue of food controls
A series of meetings was held with the relevant authorities and product certification was sent to each delegation to prevent any problems arising at the hotels.