The FIFA U-20 World Cup Organising Committee and Local Organising Committee have met ahead of the kick-off on 21 June to discuss the final preparations for the tournament.
Convening in Istanbul, with two days to go before the festivities get under way, Organising Committee Chairman Jim Boyce, LOC President Servet Yardimci and LOC General Secretary Prof. Dr. Emre Alkin looked to tie-up some of the final issues ahead of Friday's opening ceremony.
The conditions of the playing surfaces are always a crucial factor in the success of a tournament, and the LOC were happy to report that the pitches are of a high quality, while the stadiums have seen development so that they meet FIFA guidelines.
“The seven stadiums were upgraded and now meet FIFA standards. Thanks to the support of the TFF, FIFA and their technical delegate, all of the stadiums now exceed the base guidelines,” Alkin said. “This is a really important contribution that the FIFA U-20 World Cup has achieved and it is going to be a legacy it leaves for future events.”
With the spotlight now on Turkey, Boyce declared what great opportunity the U-20 World Cup was to showcase the country's sporting passion, with their desires to host further competitions down the line. “As you know, Turkey are bidding to host the Olympic games and obviously this tournament, which is going to go out worldwide, is hopefully going to show Turkey in the proper light,” Boyce said.
“I know that the football public in Turkey are eagerly looking forward to this event. The FIFA U-20 World Cup is second only to the FIFA World Cup, so I think this is a very important occasion for Turkish football and a very important occasion for Turkey as a country.”
The question of ticket sales was also raised, with Alkin expectant that the final attendances at the games will grow substantially from the current advance sales. “So far, 300,000 tickets have been sold, but we expect people to show up on the day of the games,” he said. “I assure you that the ticket sales will rise dramatically, especially when we approach the matchdays, so I expect to see another 300,000 tickets sold.
“I'm sure that spectators are eager to watch tomorrow's stars. We are a last-minute society and we expect sales to increase dramatically.”
It was a sentiment similarly reflected by Boyce, who felt the draw of seeing future greats of the game would encourage the passionate fan base around Turkey to take full advantage of the tournament. “I've been to several games in Turkey and I know how fanatical the Turkish football public are. I would hope they come out once the tournament starts as they are going to see many, many stars of the future.”
The prospect of vanishing spray being used at a FIFA tournament for the first time, used for aiding referees when officiating at free-kicks, was also discussed. The white foam, which designates where a defensive wall must stand behind before disappearing shortly after, will be trialled after IFAB approved the substance in March 2012 as free to use by any confederation, member association or league.