The Under-20 World Cup gets under way in Colombia on Friday and ahead of the kick-off I’ve put together a list of 10 Things You Need to Know About Colombia’s Hosting of the 2011 Under 20 World Cup.
1. Colombia beat out a rival bid from Venezuela to secure hosting rights for the tournament.
2. The budget for the organisation of the tournament is COP 150 billion – circa $75million.
3. Eight cities will play host to matches, those being Armenia, Barranquilla, Bogota, Cali, Cartagena, Manizales, Medellin and Pereira.
4. Six of the eight stadiums to be used have undergone remodelling work ahead of the tournament. The Estadio El Campin in Bogota (pictured above) was one such stadium and has the honour of playing host to the final.
5. This is the first time Colombia will host a World Cup at any age group. They were due to host the World Cup proper in 1986, but pulled out in 1982, citing financial difficulties.
6. The now-disgraced former CONCACAF head Jack Warner stated during an inspection visit in March 2010 that a successful U-20 World Cup could pave the way for Colombia to host the World Cup proper in 2026. With support building for a joint Argentina-Uruguay bid for 2030, however, this seems highly unlikely.
7. Current estimates suggest that over 600,000 tickets have been sold. The final and 3rd/4th playoff are both already sold out, as are all matches due to take place in Bogota.
8. Proexport, the institution in charge of the commercial promotion of non-traditional exports, international tourism and foreign investment into Colombia, estimates that over 300,000 tourists could visit the country during the tournament.
9. Former national team goalkeeper Oscar Cordoba and current striker Radamel Falcao Garcia have filmed a number of television commercials highlighting the charms of each of the host cities, which are currently in heavy rotation on Fox Sports, National Geographic and Universal across Latin America.
10. A number of the cities, including Bogota, will have dedicated fan zones where supporters can gather to watch large screen feeds of matches occurring elsewhere in the tournament, catch local singers and bands live, and witness performances from theatre and dance groups.