The best young footballers in the world will gather in the UAE in 2013 when the country plays host to the Fifa Under 17 World Cup.
Sepp Blatter, the president of Fifa, yesterday announced the UAE as winners over Ghana for the right to stage the 24-team, 52-game tournament in 2013.
Saeed Abdul Gaffar Hussain, the vice-president of the UAE Football Association, was at Fifa’s headquarters in Zurich, Switzerland, when the decision was revealed at the end of a two-day meeting of the executive committee.
“I express our gratitude to Fifa for selecting the UAE to host the 2013 Under 17 World Cup,” Hussain said. “We are extremely delighted and honoured to host this event. The Under 17 World Cup will be an excellent opportunity for us to showcase the passion in the UAE for football, and we look forward to this great event.”
The Under 17 tournament is a major undertaking, exceeded only by the World Cup in number of teams (32) and matches (64) among all Fifa competitions.
“This is an important competition and important for UAE football,” Yousuf Abdullah, the general secretary of the FA, said. “This is an event we believe will help improve our youth development in football, and I think it gives us a chance to show people that the UAE is a good football country.”
He said the skill level among the Under 17 players is very high. “This will be the future of professional football,” he said. “All the high-level players started in this kind of competition.”
Abdullah again said he believes that all seven emirates will play host to games during the tournament, the 15th staging of the Under 17 event, which he expected to be played over 23 days in October and November of 2013. As the host country, the UAE’s Under 17 team is assured a place in the tournament.
The 2011 edition of the tournament is to be held in Mexico this summer. The UAE did not qualify for the event. Abdullah said additional emphasis will be placed on developing the 2013 Under 17 team ahead of the tournament.
They went to Costa Rica and Turkey respectively. It was not expected that any country would be awarded two competitive events.
In total, seven Fifa tournaments were awarded yesterday, including the 2015 Women’s World Cup to Canada and the women’s 2012 Under 20 tournament to Uzbekistan, the only Asian nation besides the UAE to win a bid.
The UAE also made a bid to have Dubai host the annual Fifa congresses of 2012 or 2013, but those events went to Budapest and Mauritius, respectively.
The country previously hosted the men’s 2003 Under 20 World Cup, an event won by Brazil and which was considered a rousing success.
The championship match was seen by 55,000 people at Zayed Sports City in Abu Dhabi, and total attendance for the 52 matches was 592,100, an average of more than 11,000 per match
Stadiums used in 2003 included Zayed Stadium, Mohammed bin Zayed Stadium and Al Nahyan Stadium in Abu Dhabi; the Al Nasr and Al Ahli clubs in Dubai; the Sharjah club and the Al Ain club.
Also yesterday, Blatter declared that “the executive committee in a unanimous resolution has confirmed the World Cup 2018 will be in Russia and 2022 in Qatar. Full stop.” He did not explain why Fifa announced a confirmation of decisions it already had made three months before.
Random draw for Asian qualifying spot for 2014 World Cup
The fifth-place team in Asian qualifying for the 2014 World Cup will be part of a random draw to match teams from four continents in a home and away series to determine the final two entrants into the finals in Brazil, Sepp Blatter, the president of Fifa, revealed yesterday.
Asia, North America, South America and Oceania each have a “half” berth for 2014. Ahead of South Africa 2010, Fifa determined Asia’s No 5 team would meet the Oceania champions and South America’s No 5 team would meet North America’s No 4.
Blatter said complaints from North America about having to face South America before the 2010 World Cup prompted the change to a random draw.
In 2009, Costa Rica lost to eventual finals semi-finalist Uruguay, and Bahrain lost to Oceania champions New Zealand.
Africa will have five teams in the 2014 World Cup, down from six in 2010, when South Africa was the host. South America has 4.5 berths in the 2014 event, in addition to Brazil, the hosts.
Europe will again have 13 berths.