FIFA U-20 World Cup qualifying phase kicks in to high gear
The heat will be on throughout the winter as intense qualification action will be taking place on five continents over the next five months in order to complete the list of the 24 teams that will compete for the title of world champion at the FIFA U-20 World Cup Canada 2007 next summer. Prior to the kick-off of these qualification matches, the Organising Committee for the FIFA U-20 World Cup met in Zurich yesterday under the leadership of FIFA vice-president and chairman Jack A. Warner (Trinidad & Tobago) and received an impressive status report from members of the Canadian Local Organising Committee (LOC) prior to FIFA's upcoming inspection of the six venue cities of Victoria, Burnaby, Edmonton, Ottawa, Montreal and Toronto (20-26 October).
Chairman Warner expressed his delight with the advanced status of the competition's organisational preparations, the high quality of the LOC presentation and particularly the strong success of the initial ticketing phase, which had reported over 208,000 tickets sold in the span of the first two weeks of the campaign last July.
The committee also took note of the positive development of the signing of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) as Host Broadcaster of the competition, which has initiated a phase of strong cooperation and partnership with the Canadian Soccer Association in the run-up to the event.
Furthermore, the committee was pleased to learn about the extensive redevelopment plans for a number of the venues and particularly to hear about the near-completion of the stadium which will host the final of the FIFA U-20 World Cup, the National Soccer Stadium at Exhibition Place in downtown Toronto.
With seven teams already qualified for the 2007 event - including host 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 ).
African hosts for 2009 event Looking forward to the 2009 edition of the FIFA U-20 World Cup, the committee praised the FIFA Executive Committee's 5 June decision to hold this competition on the African continent as part of FIFA's "Win in Africa with Africa" initiative. Having already received strong bids to host the event from a number of African associations, the committee confirmed its intention to complete the bid review process and announce the host in December 2006.