ISTANBUL: FIFA has criticised Turkey’s organising committee for the World Under-20 Youth Cup after poor attendances for the opening days of the tournament.

The event began last Friday and is being staged in the cities of Istanbul, Antalya, Bursa, Gaziantep, Kayseri, Rize and Trabzon.

Jim Boyce, chairman of the FIFA Organising Committee for the tournament, has said he was unhappy with the fact that the opening 12 games have averaged only 4,828 spectators. If this attendance level continues, Turkey 2013 will mark the lowest-attended Under-20 World Cup since 1977.

FIFA vice-president Boyce had expressed concerns before the tournament about empty seats because only around 300,000 of the 1.3m tickets had been sold.

‘Very disappointed’

He said: “Despite the Local Organising Committee’s excellent event preparation, I am nevertheless very disappointed by the match attendance figures. This tournament is a wonderful chance for Turkey but the low number of spectators currently detracts from this opportunity.”

The sight of near-empty stadiums could damage Turkey at a time when the country is making a major push in the event-hosting sector.

Istanbul is competing against Madrid and Tokyo for the right to stage the 2020 Olympic Games, with a decision to be made on September 7.

UEFA president Michel Platini had previously named the country as his preferred choice to host the showpiece semi-finals and final of Euro 2020.

Speaking before the tournament, Boyce said hosting FIFA’s second-biggest competition after the World Cup provided Turkey with a valuable opportunity to showcase its event-staging capabilities.

]Last week he said: “It’s very important the Turkish football public come out and give great support to this tournament. I know Turkey for example is very keen on hopefully hosting the likes of the European finals.

“Obviously an event like this will put Turkish football on the map and hopefully will help them in their bid in the future to host bigger tournaments such as a World Cup.”


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Tuesday, June 25, 2013

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