The FIFA U-20 World Cup came to a close yesterday with England taking the championship title following a thrilling 1-0 final against Venezuela at the Suwon World Cup Stadium. In a match that was evenly contested throughout, the Young Lions held on to become U-20 World Cup champions for the first time since the competition began in 1977.
A youth tournament considered by many as a platform to see some of football’s stars of tomorrow, the FIFA U-20 World Cup Korea Republic did not disappoint fans. England took the awards for best player and best goalkeeper in the competition, with Dominic Solanke and Freddie Woodman taking the adidas Golden Ball and adidas Golden Glove awards respectively. Despite elimination at semi-final stage, Italian midfielder Riccardo Orsolini took the adidas Golden Boot award as the tournament’s top scorer with five goals.
Speaking about the competition, Local Organising Committee (LOC) Chairman and President of the Korea Football Association Chung Mong Gyu said: "As the host nation of the FIFA U-20 World Cup, it’s unfortunate that the Korean team's journey in the competition didn't take them further. However, I am deeply proud of Korea's successful hosting of this important youth tournament and I would like to thank FIFA, the government and the host cities for their co-operation and support in the planning and staging of this event. I would also like to acknowledge the important role played by leading domestic companies as National Supporters of the competition, and to highlight the high levels of ticket sales for the matches, which went beyond expectations."
FIFA’s U-20 World Cup in Korea Republic was also the first youth tournament to use the video assistant referee system (VAR). Following its testing at the FIFA Club World Cup in Japan in 2016, the FIFA U-20 World Cup Korea Republic was its most prominent test to date, with the system still in an experimental phase. Designed to assist a referee in decisions regarding goals, penalties, red card incidents and player identity, of the 52 games played there were seven game-changing decisions corrected as a result of VAR intervention, 15 decisions reviewed by the VARs, and 12 decisions changed based on VAR input.
At the closing match of the tournament FIFA President Gianni Infantino said: “I would like to compliment the LOC and all of those who made this competition possible here in Korea. It has been an extremely successful event and a tremendous competition with some great football. I would also like to congratulate England on their win as FIFA U-20 World Cup Champions, their first time taking this title. I also commend Venezuela for their passion and skill in reaching the final of the competition.”
He added: “The FIFA U-20 World Cup Korea provided a great opportunity for referees to test the IFAB VAR protocol in an important international competition. We are very happy with the results so far and look forward to making further improvements. The next opportunity to test and refine the system during live matches will be at the FIFA Confederations Cup later this month in Russia.”