Blatter says U-20 World Cup will be a major test for Turkey
FIFA President Sepp Blatter (2R) and Turkish Football Federation chairman Yıldırım Demirören (R) hold a banner symbolizing the FIFA U-20 World Cup 2013 summit in Zurich. The tournament will be held in Turkey. DHA photo
Next year’s U-20 World Cup will be an important test for Turkey’s Euro 2020 candidacy, FIFA President Sepp Blatter said yesterday said.
Along with top names in world football’s governing body, Blatter hosted Turkish Football Federation (TFF) chairman Yıldırım Demirören and the mayors of seven host cities for next year’s football tournament in the country.
“FIFA U-20 World Cup 2013 will be a fine test for Turkey in the sense of its bid to host Euro 2020 finals,” the head of FIFA said at the U-20 World Cup 2013 summit in Zurich.
Turkey unveiled itself as one of the candidates for the 2020 European Football Championships, along with a joint Celtic bid from Scotland, the Republic of Ireland and Wales and a joint bid from Azerbaijan and Georgia. The hosts will be announced in late 2013 or early 2014. However, Turkey’s Euro 2020 bid might be automatically dropped by that time if Istanbul is awarded hosting rights for the Olympic Games the same year. Istanbul is running with Tokyo and Madrid for the 2020 bid, which will be announced in September 2013. Both Michel Platini, the chairman of the European football’s governing body, UEFA, and Jacques Rogge, the International Olympic Committee President, said that Turkey cannot host the two major events the same summer.
Blatter said yesterday he was sure that “Turkey will be a great host” for the competition. The president also called the U-20 competition the second best global football competition after the World Cup.
He also underlined the importance of football in global peace.
“Turkey is located in a tough area in the world. Football will help the world be a better place,” he said. “We don’t talk about politics, but we bring people together through football. People come together at the stadiums.”
The games will be played in stadiums in seven Turkish cities, including Istanbul, Antalya, Bursa, Rize, Kayseri, Trabzon and Gaziantep. Mayors of those seven cities were also present at the FIFA U-20 World Cup 2013 summit in Zurich and signed a declaration.
“I hereby pledge to do my part in delivering the best ever FIFA U-20 World Cup along with working in full partnership and cooperation with FIFA, the Turkish Football Federation and with my fellow mayors and governors,” the declaration read.
FIFA Executive Committee member and TFF honorary chief Şenes Erzik said it is important to draw crowds to the stadium.
“Turkey is preparing strongly for the tournament,” Erzik said. “We need to fill the stadiums. Depending on my past experiences, I can say that attracting spectators is one of the most important factors.”