Completing its tour of Colombia, where it has been inspecting the cities hosting the FIFA U-20 World Cup later this year, a FIFA delegation has voiced its confidence that preparations will be completed in time for the big event.

“We are confident because the host cities are all working very hard,” said Competition Director Inaki Alvarez, the head of the ten-person delegation, which comprised representatives from FIFA’s television, communication and marketing departments, among other sections.

Visiting the country from 18 to 27 January, the group’s brief was to assess the training grounds, hotels and stadiums that will be used during the course of the tournament, which runs from 29 July to 20 August. Their extensive tour took them to Cartagena, Barranquilla, Medellin, Cali, Armenia, Pereira, Manizales and the Colombian capital of Bogota.

Speaking at a press conference that marked the end of the delegation’s trip, Alvarez had this to say: “Some of the stadiums are further on than others, but you expect that at this stage. There’s no time to relax, though. They have a delivery deadline to meet between March and April. And from our viewpoint 27 April is an important date because that’s when the draw for the group phase takes place in Cartagena. The delegates from the participating teams will be there and they’ll be wanting to see the hotels, stadiums and training pitches. We’ve spoken directly with the architects so that they know which aspects of the stadiums are the most important.”

“We’ve noted a real commitment to meeting the deadline and there’s some very intensive work going on at the stadiums,” remarked Luis H. Bedoya, the President of the Local Organising Committee and the Colombian Football Federation.

Some of the stadiums are further on than others, but you expect that at this stage. There’s no time to relax, though.

Competition Director Inaki Alvarez

“I’d like to congratulate the host cities and the deputies of the national government for their support of the project,” he added. “There has been more to this visit than just inspecting the venues, however. We have a work programme in place for the organisation of the tournament, one that complies with FIFA standards. The committees set up by the LOC and FIFA are working together and have analysed these plans in great detail. Overall, I think it’s been a very productive visit.”

Also taking part in the inspection process was Government Coordinator Fernando Panesso and Jairo Clopatofsky, the Director of the Colombian Institute of Sport, an indication of the backing the national authorities are giving to the tournament.

Before the press conference came to an end Alvarez also revealed the situation with regard to the designated accommodation for teams and match officials.

“We have seen a number of excellent hotels in every city and we’re finalising the contracts now. It all looks very good,” he said. “The teams and match officials are going to be spending a lot of time in the hotels and on the training grounds and they’re both very important aspects for us. The pitches are obviously in a different state, mainly due to the hard winter they’ve had here. We’ll be monitoring each and every one of them closely and we’ll implement a plan between March and July.”