The FIFA U-20 World Cup New Zealand 2015 has been hailed a resounding success following 22 days of mouth-watering football, attended by over 300,000 people.
The Final which was won by Serbia who beat Brazil 2-1 after extra-time, was a fitting end to New Zealand’s hosting of FIFA’s second-largest male tournament with a sell-out crowd of over 25,000.
The finals day also got off to a thrilling start with Mali taking third place with a 3-1 win over Senegal.
Dave Beeche, CEO of the FIFA U-20 World Cup Local Organising Committee, said he was delighted with how New Zealanders had embraced the tournament.
“Kiwi sports fans have been part of an incredible celebration of world football. We’ve seen our own Junior All Whites make history going further than ever before in a FIFA tournament, we witnessed over 150 stunning goals, inspiring talent and amazing matches throughout every stage of the tournament.
“We have also been privileged to witness so many special moments through the engagement of our visiting teams and fans with our communities, that we will look back on fondly in years to come. Some examples that spring to mind were our 300 Myanmar refugees travelling to the New Zealand-Myanmar game thanks to the generosity of the Wellington community and the German football team spending the day with our Sunshine Football team in Christchurch. Truly inspiring.”
Mr Beeche said that the long-term benefits from the tournament bodes well for the future of football in New Zealand.
“The legacy from this tournament will provide huge benefits the football community in New Zealand with over $5 million dollars of football infrastructure and equipment left in place to help grow and improve the standard and facilities for football in New Zealand.”
Mr Beeche also paid tribute to visiting fans and those from ex-pat communities who have turned out in force to support their teams.
“One of our aims was to create noise, colour and movement inside the stadiums, thereby bringing that unique football atmosphere that global football is renowned for. We have seen this across the tournament from so many of our local communities including Serbians, Malians, the Brazilians, the Ghanaians and the Colombians to name but a few.
“Their engagement in the tournament, also bodes well for the future of football in this country with many more keen to get involved at a local level.”
FIFA Director of Competitions, Colin Smith, reiterated Mr Beeche’s comments giving New Zealand a huge thumbs up for its successful hosting of the tournament.
“New Zealand has proved to be a fantastic host of the FIFA U-20 World Cup, it has been run by hugely dedicated individuals, passionate and enthusiastic volunteers and we are delighted with how well the tournament has been delivered across all seven host cities.”
· 1,000 volunteers declared to get involved in local football after the tournament
· Nine FIFA international standard sand-based training pitches across New Zealand.
· Goals, team benches, dug-outs and training equipment worth $140,000 provided to Football Federations.
· Futsal court worth $50,000 provided to New Zealand Football.
· VIP seats worth $50,000 provided to stadiums
· 20 new floodlights (Christchurch and Whangarei)
· Over 500 schools have signed up the schools programme, learning about the tournament in the classroom
· Over 8,000 young people took part in FIFA Grassroots Festivals over the last three months benefitting from world class training