Seyrantepe Stadium, one of the proposed venues in Istanbul 2020’s 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games Plan, hosted the opening match of the FIFA U-20 World Cup 2013 Friday.
France defeated Ghana 3-1 in the 50,000-seat stadium before Spain defeated the USA 4-1. Korea Republic and Portugal also secured wins against Cuba and Nigeria, respectively, in Kayseri.
Turkey is using the FIFA U-20 World Cup to showcase its ability to host major international sporting events ahead of Istanbul’s bid to host the 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Summer Games with a total of 52 matches in seven cities being staged this month.
Turkey has hosted more than 40 competitions in the past seven years. The FIFA U-20 World Cup is being staged alongside the 2013 Mediterranean Games in Mersin.
“I am delighted that Turkey was chosen to host the Under-20 World Cup,” Istanbul 2020 Bid Committee Chairman Hasan Arat said. “As FIFA will see over the next three weeks, Turkey delivers an exceptional sports-event platform, mixing iconic backdrops with technical excellence allowing fans and athletes to enjoy the drama and freedom of athletic pursuit.
“The Under-20 World Cup is the first official FIFA competition Turkey has ever held and Istanbul 2020 also represents a number of historic firsts for the Olympic Movement. It would be the first time turkey hosts the Olympic and Paralympic Games, the first time a Games takes place across two continents simultaneously and the first time in Games history that anyone will be able to watch an Olympic or Paralympic event in Asia in the morning and another in Europe in the afternoon. To the Olympic Movement Istanbul 2020 really does represent a bridge to a new culture.”
Mersin managed to compress a six-year construction programme into just 18 months to host the 2013 Mediterranean Games after the Greek city of Volos-Larisa was stripped of hosting duties in 2011.
With football’s mass appeal worldwide, more than five hundred million viewers in more than 190 countries will have their eyes on Turkey for the FIFA U-20 World Cup 2013.
“As you know, Turkey are bidding to host the Olympic Games and obviously this tournament, which is going to go out worldwide, is hopefully going to show Turkey in the proper light,” FIFA U-20 World Cup Turkey 2013 Organising Committee Chairman Jim Boyce said. “I know that the football public in Turkey are eagerly looking forward to this event. The FIFA Under-20 World Cup is second only to the FIFA World Cup, so I think this is a very important occasion for Turkish football and a very important occasion for Turkey as a country.”
Despite the mainly peaceful protests in Turkey, doubts have been cast on the country’s ability to host the FIFA U-20 World Cup and, in the future, possibly hosting the 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Summer Games.
“In terms of security, we feel secure and we feel we are in a good place and Turkey is a great place to be right now,” USA Head Coach Tab Ramos said after his side’s defeat at Seyrantepe Stadium. “There is no reason for us to think any differently. We actually drove 45 minutes across town to get to practice and drove through the whole city. There were no signs other than normal life around here.”
The International Olympic Committee will announce the Host City for the 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Summer Games at the 125th IOC Session in Buenos Aires 7 September. Istanbul is bidding against Madrid and Tokyo to host the Games.