Six weeks before the start of the FIFA U-20 World Cup Turkey 2013, FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter has met with the Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The meeting in Ankara saw the pair primarily focus on FIFA’s major youth competition, but other topics such as Istanbul’s bid for the 2020 Olympic Games and football development in the country were also discussed.
The President also met with Suat Kilic, Minister of Youth and Sports and he was accompanied by FIFA's Director of Member Associations and Development Thierry Regenass and senior officials of the Turkish Football Federation (TFF), including President Yildirim Demiroren, FIFA Executive Committee member Senes Erzik and TFF Vice President and Local Organising Committee (LOC) President Servet Yardimci.
"The Prime Minister is a great personality," said President Blatter. "He highlighted that Turkey is very happy to welcome 23 teams from all over the world. Their aim is to be an excellent host which is great to hear. We trust Turkey will do everything which needs to be done to fill the stadiums.
"The Prime Minister is aware and will support the TFF and the International Olympic Committee. This is very important for FIFA as only full stadiums give the tournament the atmosphere it deserves."
The competition will open on 21 June in Kayseri with the opening match between debutants Cuba and the Asian champions Korea Republic. Hosts Turkey play their first game the day after in Trabzon against El Salvador, who will also be playing in their first FIFA U-20 World Cup.
This is FIFA's first competition in Turkey and we are confident it will be a great event.
"This is FIFA's first competition in Turkey and we have very high expectations, but we are confident it will be a great event. I encouraged the Prime Minister that Turkey uses the FIFA U-20 World Cup as an international showcase for Istanbul's bid for the 2020 Olympic Games."
TFF Vice President and LOC President Servet Yardimci expressed his country's desire to host the best ever version of FIFA's premier youth tournament.
"We are very happy to have the Prime Minister and our Sports Minister and the whole government including the mayors and governors of the seven host cities behind us. We gave our Prime Minister the confidence and our commitment to organise the best ever FIFA U- 20 World Cup.
"At the same time we are more than prepared to show the best of Turkish hospitality to all visiting teams and their supporters. We hope it will be a big festival for Turkish football and for the world."
There are several ongoing events as the country prepares to host its first FIFA U-20 World Cup.
The trophy tour stops in Rize to celebrate with the successful Rizespor team, who recently gained promotion to the Turkish top flight, before it goes to Trabzon (18-19 May), Bursa (25-26 May) and Istanbul (1-2 June). Grassroots festivals have been taking place across the country, with another scheduled for Bursa on Friday this week and in Istanbul one week later.
Tickets for the tournament are available to buy from the link on the right-hand side of this article.