A FIFA delegation has this week conducted a four-day inspection visit of Ibague, Bucaramanga, Medellin and Cali, the four cities that are expected to host the FIFA Futsal World Cup Colombia 2016.
“Generally speaking, the inspection was very satisfactory and productive,” said FIFA Event Manager Jaime Yarza, summing up the visit, which began on Monday and ended on Thursday.
He added: “We were able to take a detailed look at the plans, both on the table and in visits to the arenas. As a result of this, we are confident that the host cities are committed and are making the modifications needed for an event of this scale, especially in Bucaramanga, Medellin and Cali.”
The delegation also included a working group from the Local Organising Committee. Headed by LOC Chairman Rodrigo Cobo, the group closely followed every instruction given by FIFA, and the general feeling ahead of the key meeting of FIFA’s Futsal Committee on 23 September – the agenda for which includes the naming of the host cities – is positive.
Work to be done
The visit began in the city of Ibague, where a new mini stadium is being built for the event, with Yarza commenting: “I would like to thank the mayor for all the efforts being made, but work needs to be carried out at a faster rate to ensure that the city can host the event.
“I am sure that Ibague will do everything it can to step up construction work and have everything ready in time for the deadline on 1 June. It is very important for FIFA to have Ibague – and not just the country’s major cities – as a venue for the Futsal World Cup.”
Making a pledge to FIFA, the city’s mayor, Luis Rodriguez, said: “Despite only having a short period of time in which to complete the arena, we are not going to pass up this opportunity to host an event of this importance. We have already secured the resources we need to fulfil our commitment and we will do so by conducting a very professional job on behalf of the people of Ibague and Colombia.”
The delegation then moved on to Bucaramanga, where it received a warm welcome from a group of young players from Deportivo Real Bucaramanga, the reigning national futsal league champions.
“A city that is home to a team that has won the league championship twice deserves to host this World Cup,” said Yarza, raising a smile on the faces of those present.
Following a visit to El Coliseo del Bicentenario, the FIFA Event Manager voiced his praise for the work being undertaken: “We have made a few changes in operational areas, the kind of modifications that need to be made for a tournament of this importance. We are very pleased, nevertheless, and we congratulate Coldeportes (the Colombian Ministry of Sport) and the mayor’s office for taking steps to ensure that the process for upgrading El Coliseo is under way.”
Yarza was also impressed by what he saw in Medellin and Cali, stating: “We saw that there is a lot of interest in the cities, that the people are doing a professional job and that the facilities are of a high quality.
“Obviously, some modifications need to be made and work carried out at the stadiums in terms of timber work, lighting, dressing rooms and in the TV and media areas. Let’s not forget that the image and name of the Colombian host cities will be promoted in more than 200 countries for a whole month during the competition.”
Asked about the situation with regard to El Pueblo Arena, LOC Chairman Cobo revealed his understanding of the main points of the inspection visit. “It’s understandable that expectations and requirements should be higher there than at the other arenas. After all, it is the venue for the final of the World Cup, it will be the home of the national team and there will be two groups based there, which means there will be eight teams playing there in all.”
Yarza offered a message of optimism as he bade farewell to Colombia: “We sensed it before we came, but thanks to this visit we are even more secure in our minds that Colombia is perfectly well equipped to stage the Futsal World Cup and has the right structures in place for the participating teams and for the fans."