FIFA and the Local Organising Committee of the FIFA World Youth Championship Netherlands 2005 held a press conference on 8 June at FIFA's operational headquarters ahead of the opening of the event. The subjects that came under discussion ranged from the organisation and the stadiums to refereeing matters. Read on for key excerpts.
Senes Erzik, Deputy Chairman of the Organising Committee for the FIFA World Youth Championship and FIFA Executive Committee member
On the tournament
As the fifteenth edition of the second oldest and second biggest tournament organised by FIFA, the FIFA World Youth Championship Netherlands 2005 is an important event for FIFA. Brazil and Argentina have both won it four times, the event has been held in all six confederations, and players of the calibre of Diego Maradona, Enzo Francescoli, Zvonimir Boban, and Thierry Henry have come to prominence at the tournament. Let no one make any mistake: the FIFA World Youth Championship is a major event.
On the hosts
Our Dutch hosts are real football lovers. Finalists at the 1974 and 1978 FIFA World Cups, European champions in 1988, they also staged the FIFA Futsal World Championship in 1989, not to mention Euro 2000. Consequently, we are confident that the tournament will be a success.
Urs Linsi, FIFA General Secretary
On the FIFA World Youth Championship 2005
After months of preparation, the time has now come for the players to take the stage. But, some might ask, why have a World Youth Championship at all? Because it is important to develop young talents, to prepare them for the highest level. Learning through contact with new cultures and seeing new tactics is an opportunity for these young players, who are the future ambassadors of world football. Moreover, with 24 teams and 52 matches over three weeks, this competition amounts to a challenge for the national organising associations…
On its popular success
Two years ago, UAE 2003 attracted no less than 500 million television viewers. We expect to top that this year, as the broadcasting rights have already been purchased by 170 countries, a new record.
All of the officials come from the refereeing elite. They are all in the frame for Germany 2006. Tougher physical tests have been introduced to ensure that only the very best trios have been selected. Unfortunately, four of them failed these tests, so these trios must return home. They are teams in themselves: they win together and lose together. Our aim is to get the best referees for the World Cup next year. The tests are unforgiving, but it's the only way to select the best. I must say, however, that generally speaking the physical condition of the referees here is nothing short of remarkable.
On refereeing errors
Players, coaches and referees all make mistakes. It's part of the game. It's what I would call the "first match". What you see after the fact on video simply doesn't come into it; that's the "second match", if you like. Video evidence is useful for disciplinary sanctions, but that's all. As we've always emphasised at FIFA, football's human element must be retained. It mirrors life itself and we have to protect it.
On the Laws of the GameAt the IFAB meeting last February, the decision was made to introduce five changes for this competition and the FIFA Confederations Cup. However, it is the new interpretation of Law 11 that represents the biggest development. The referees, coaches and players have all been brought fully up to date, and I believe it represents a vital simplification of this rule.
Harry Been, Director of the FIFA World Youth Championship Netherlands 2005 and General Secretary of the Dutch Football Federation (KNVB)
On the event organisation
For us, the organisers, these are the most crucial days. The eyes of the world are riveted upon us, but what matters is football, not us. Nothing can ever be perfect, of course, but now it's time to get on with the action! And it is football of a very high quality that is going to be on offer here.
A few days ago, I carried out a final tour of inspection of the stadiums, which went well. Emmen stadium is the smallest, but it's a tremendous venue with a formidable atmosphere. The organisation is primarily made up of volunteers, who account for 1,200 of the 1,300 people working on this project. And they are vital to us.
On the choice of stadiums
We opted to use "small" stadiums primarily to give some smaller towns an opportunity to showcase themselves. The ones we've selected are the most enthusiastic, the ones who proposed a wide range of ideas for activities in the towns themselves and outside the stadiums. Also, we looked at the forecasted spectator numbers, as we'd prefer to have stadiums three-quarters full than half-empty.
On ticket salesWe have already sold 225,000 tickets, which is very good as it represents over 50% of the total. However, I know that we can do even better, as I'm sure that a lot of people will snap tickets up at the last moment. I can tell you that 10 games are already sold out, but we knew from the start that we weren't going to make money from this tournament. That's not what interests us. We are just delighted to be promoting the Netherlands to the 24 qualified teams and TV viewers all over the globe.
Albert Jaap van Santbrink, General Manager of SOS Children's Villages
On SOS Children's Villages
We are a non-governmental organisation that takes care of orphans and abandoned children across the world. We help them to grow, give them love, medical aid, and an education. We currently have 452 villages caring for over 58,000 children.
On the partnership with FIFAFIFA have been one of our main partners over the last decade. The aim of our joint campaigns is to collect funds for the "6 Children's Villages for 2006" project. Here in the Netherlands, aided by such famous ambassadors as Hans van Breukelen and Ruud van Nistelrooy, we are working on plans for a village in Mexico. The project is moving forward but we still need more money, and we'd like to thank FIFA for its commitment to this enterprise.