Whangarei to host four U-20 World Cup bouts

By Mike Dinsdale

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Whangarei is to host next years U-2O World Cup bouts. Photo/Thinkstock
Whangarei is to host next years U-2O World Cup bouts. Photo/Thinkstock

The protagonists won't be known until next year, but we at least know when Whangarei will host the next generation of football superstars with four games held in the city for the 2015 Fifa Under 20 World Cup.

Fifa has released the kick-off times for all games - one of the largest sporting events on the planet - with Whangarei hosting three pool games and a game in the round of 16, where the winner will go through to the quarter-final. The event is expected to bring up to $3.5 million to the region and expose Whangarei to thousands of foreign visitors.

And while the games are well over a year away - and the teams that play them won't be known until the final qualification next March - Northland's football community is already counting down the days.

Northern Football development officer Dave Alabaster said that the football fraternity here is already really excited about having games in Whangarei.

"The Fifa U-20 World Cup is the second largest global football tournament, it is where the future superstars of world football are discovered," Mr Alabaster said.

"With so many young players in Northland this tournament will be hugely inspirational for them and is a fantastic boost for the game."

Toll Stadium will host three group matches with the first kicking off at 4pm on May 30; the second at 1pm on June 2 and the third from 2pm on June 7. Whangarei's round of 16 match will kick off at 4pm on June 11.

Whangarei is a category 3 host city for the tournament. A Covec economic assessment report estimated $3.5 million of income for category 3 host cities, made up of $1.87 million from NZF and Fifa spending money in the city to deliver the event; $1.04 million spent by international visitors and .76 million from domestic visitors.

Category 3 regions could also expect 8927 international visitors over 90,044 visitor nights including 115 international media.

The under-20 World Cup is is broadcast in more than 200 countries and watched by an audience of about 500 million.

The event - which will feature 24 teams over 52 games - showcases the world's best young footballing talent and many of those taking part will already have professional contracts with some of the biggest football clubs on the planet. The 2005 competition in the Netherlands, won by Argentina, featured Lionel Messi, the Barcelona star who is recognised as the best player in the world today.

Tickets for the 2015 event go on sale to the football family from April 28 and then general public sales will commence on June 13, with venue packs discounted by a minimum of 20 per cent in 2014 and a five per cent cash rebate will go back to football clubs across New Zealand.

- Northern Advocate

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