FIFA inspection report: all six venues receive high marks as ticket sales top 350,000 and Official Draw is announced for 3 March in Toronto
FIFA and the Canadian Soccer Association (CSA) are pleased to announce that ticket sales for the FIFA U-20 World Cup Canada 2007 have topped the 350,000 mark, thus setting the stage for the competition to become the largest single-sport event in Canadian history. The announcement, which came in tandem with the designation of Toronto as the host of the Official Draw on 3 March 2007, took place today at a media conference following the conclusion of FIFA's week-long inspection tour of the six Canadian venues that will play host to the world's best U-20 teams next summer.
The high-level inspection team, led by FIFA vice-president and Organising Committee chairman Jack A. Warner (Trinidad & Tobago) was very impressed with the organisation and overall level of preparation in each of the facilities in Victoria, Burnaby, Edmonton, Ottawa, Montréal and Toronto. Excellent progress was noted in planning and implementation in those venues which had question marks over them following FIFA's first inspection in April 2006.
"In reflection of the importance and prestige of this event, FIFA sets the bar very high for its venues and facilities," said chairman Warner. "I am pleased to say that our Canadian hosts have been first class in every way and thus far have met all of FIFA's expectations and standards of quality. In particular, I am delighted to see first-hand the near-completion of the new National Soccer Stadium at Exhibition Place in downtown Toronto, which will host the final of the FIFA U-20 World Cup. Of course, different levels of work still need to be done in each of the venues, but I have every confidence that working together, not only will we reach our collective goal of a highly successful tournament, I believe we will exceed it as well."
Record breaking momentum If initial ticket sales are any indication, "It's Gonna Be Huge" - the LOC's official tournament slogan - is right on target. A total of 520,000 spectators would be needed in order to break the record of the largest single-sport event in Canadian history and well over 65% of that target has already been reached. This achievement is even more impressive considering that more than three-quarters of the teams have yet to qualify and that the venues at which they will play will not be known until after the Official Draw.
Official Draw broadcast live on national TV The Official Draw will take place on Saturday, 3 March at 16.30 at the Liberty Grand Entertainment Complex in Toronto and will be broadcast live from coast to coast by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation/Société Radio-Canada (CBC/SRC), the competition's official Host Broadcaster. The event will be open to the media and accreditation information will be sent out in due course.
The Official Draw is not only a highly-anticipated event for each of the 24 teams who will have earned a berth for next year's tournament, but for all fans of the beautiful game worldwide as well. It will have a major impact on the competition by determining the opponents each team will face during the group stage as well as identifying the venue at which each match will be played and the date.
With seven teams already qualified for the 2007 event - including hosts Canada and six European representatives (Austria, Czech Republic, Poland, Portugal, Scotland and Spain) - the 17 remaining teams will be decided between 29 October 2006 - when the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) qualification competition kicks off in India - and 25 February 2007, when the Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football (CONCACAF) brings its qualification to a close (see FIFA.com for each confederation's qualification details: http://www.FIFA.com/en/comp/U20M2007/tournament/0,4829,U20M-2007-21,00.html ).
Portugal to play in Toronto It was also announced that for the Official Draw, Portugal would be placed into the group of teams that will play in Toronto. The proposal, which was put forth by the Canadian Soccer Association due to the large Portuguese community living in Toronto, was approved at the 17 October meeting of the Organising Committee for the FIFA U-20 World Cup in Zurich.