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A delegation from the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) will be visiting Christchurch this weekend to discuss hosting rights for matches as part of the FIFA Under 20 World Cup in 2015.
Delegates will be in Christchurch on Sunday 20 and Monday 21 January where they will meet with Council representatives as well as members of Christchurch’s tourism, sports and hospitality industries.
New Zealand Football won the right to host the 2015 Under 20 Football World Cup and are now working with FIFA to allocate matches to host cities.
Mayor Bob Parker says “Hosting matches will contribute to our reputation as an exciting and dynamic city, well on the road to recovery.”
Hosting even the minimum level of matches available would be worth a minimum of 6,800 international visitor nights and bring in potentially $4.3 to $5.4 million to the local economy.
Football is the world’s most popular sport and to have an event of this level will be a great opportunity to showcase the city. The event will be televised in over 200 territories around the world with a television audience of almost 470 million viewers.
Having the best young players in the world playing here will provide exciting viewing and a real stadium experience for Christchurch residents and football fans. It will also encourage youngsters to take up the sport and broaden the appeal of football throughout the community.
Recreation and Sport Manager John Filsell believes that compelling, high level competition will bring out the best of Cantabrian spirit.
“The community will benefit from seeing these athletes. Sport is a great way to meet people and socialise. It keeps you fit and has benefits for health, well being and happiness.”
The tournament will also give local enthusiasts opportunities to participate in the event.
“Players, sports-minded people and the local community will have a chance to help with event organisation through the various volunteer roles which we will be required to fill to make this event a success for Christchurch. It will help develop the sport within in New Zealand,” says Mr Filsell.
It is not the first time Christchurch has hosted FIFA events. “We hosted matches from the Under 17 Women’s World Cup in 2008 and the Under 17 Men’s World Cup in 1999. We have the experience and resources to host a great tournament here.”
A maximum of eight New Zealand cities will have the opportunity to host world cup events and Christchurch officials are optimistic that the city will win the support of FIFA delegates.
Mayor Parker says “Christchurch is generating a huge amount of interest internationally. We have acquired a reputation for resilience, resourcefulness and ingenuity.”
A decision on the allocation of matches is expected to be made towards the end of February.
Media opportunity: members of the media will have an opportunity to speak to delegates on Monday 21 January.