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11 Feb 2015
Football fever has hit Wellington once again with the announcement that six-time U-20 FIFA World Cup winners Argentina will play four matches in the city during this year's tournament. The South American powerhouse side is the major drawcard in an event that is likely to showcase future superstars of the global game.
The draw for the FIFA U-20 World Cup took place in Auckland yesterday and the tension was high among host cities as teams were announced.
The big draw card for Wellington, six-time U-20 FIFA World Cup champions Argentina are also recent winners of the continental title and South American U-20 Championship. Argentina will be playing four matches here and will be joined in Wellington by Panama, Austria and a third-placed qualifier from Africa, who will be announced in late March after the CAF qualifying tournament.
“Excitement is already building,” says Wellington’s Deputy Mayor Justin Lester, “we’re thrilled to be a part of the action and raring to go.”
New Zealand will play their final pool match against Myanmar in Wellington, which will be pivotal to qualifying for the knock out stages of the tournament.
The benefits of hosting some of the world’s current and future football superstars has not been lost on New Zealand’s capital.
“Part of this opportunity is to showcase Wellington to the world,” says Economic Growth and Arts Portfolio Leader, Cr Jo Coughlan. “FIFA U-20 World Cup is a big deal – broadcast to over 100 countries and a global television audience of more than 170 million. All eyes will be on us and we plan to put on a good show.
“With over 800 players, 250 FIFA staff and delegates and more than 100 international media, it’s got to be good for the economy.”
Today, Wellington’s Deputy Mayor will give team delegates a warm welcome while a team of local college footballers form a guard of honour for their arrival in Wellington.
Councillor Lester has been playing football since he was a child and has seen Wellington’s football scene grow markedly over the years. He’s attending all the games and is taking his kids with him.
“Wellington’s football community continues to grow and thrive. Part of the legacy of hosting an event such as FIFA U-20 World Cup means we will see the number of new players leap as a result.”