FIFA U-20 World Cup officials have given New Zealand their seal of approval as the country gears up to host one of the biggest sporting events on the planet. A FIFA inspection team spent 10-days travelling the North and South Islands of New Zealand, assessing training venues and hotels in each of the seven host cities in preparation for when the highly-anticipated tournament comes to town on 30 May 2015.
Marion Mayer-Vorfelder, head, FIFA U-20 World Cup said she was pleased with New Zealand’s preparations after local and international FIFA-U20 World Cup officials visited Whangerei, Auckland, Hamilton, New Plymouth, Wellington, Christchurch and Dunedin. The praise from Mayer-Vorfelder holds New Zealand in good stead considering this is the fifth edition of the FIFA U-20 Football World Cup that she will oversee. She also claimed this tournament will put New Zealand on a ‘platform’ for the world to see.
"New Zealand is a great country, we toured seven venues North to South and overall we are very impressed. Facilities are good, enthusiasm is great. We are positive it will be an excellent tournament from all perspectives," Mayer-Vorfelder said
Although New Zealand is known as a predominantly rugby-mad nation, thanks to the heroics of the world-beating All Blacks, the FIFA U-20 Football World Cup will be the third FIFA tournament to be hosted in New Zealand. Despite rugby's popularity, football is the most participated sport in New Zealand and the impending festival of football is expected to fill stadiums across the country with colour and a carnival atmosphere as a host of rising stars of the global game take to the field.
"New Zealanders will be overwhelmed by the standard and quality of football played in this tournament, it really is the launch pad of our next international footballing superstars and we would urge all sports fans not to miss out on seeing these players in action. I was fortunate enough to see Lionel Messi play at this tournament only in 2005, and it is this calibre of player which fans in New Zealand will get to see live in 2015. Already I can feel the anticipation building across the country," Mayer-Vorfelder added.
The FIFA U-20 Trophy was also on display in Auckland - the first time it has been allowed to tour a country so far in advance of the tournament. The finely-crafted trophy will embark on a whirlwind tour of New Zealand, stopping at over 40