Dunedin looks to Fifa Under-20 World Cup

One of the biggest sporting shows on Earth is coming to New Zealand, and Dunedin will almost certainly host games.

News the country had secured the hosting rights for the 2015 Fifa Under-20 World Cup was well received in Dunedin yesterday.

The venues are still to be confirmed, but New Zealand Football's bid document proposed six host cities - Auckland, Hamilton, Napier, Wellington, Christchurch and Dunedin. The championship is Fifa's second largest tournament. It is broadcast in more than 200 countries and reportedly reaches an audience of about 500 million viewers.

It is a great opportunity to promote the country to a global audience and Dunedin Mayor Dave Cull is delighted.

"I would say, with the new [Forsyth Barr] stadium, we have the best football venue in the country and I would be hoping to get some matches here which would reflect that," Mr Cull said, though his excitement was tempered by a good measure of pragmatism.

"Before we rush in and sign up, the council would want to know what the costs were and then we can compare them with what the perceived benefits are.

"It is no use getting exposure around the world if that is all it gets us. If the visitors don't come and spend the money to justify whatever input we have to have, then it doesn't add up.

"But all I can say is we would love to have it here. We have the best facility and, if we can pull it together and attract some really good matches here, I'm all for it."

Dunedin Venues Management Ltd chief executive David Davies was just as ambitious, although the Welshman confessed he had some mixed feelings because it was Wales which New Zealand beat to secure the hosting rights.

He was also very excited about the prospect of hosting games at Forsyth Barr Stadium.

"Our view is that this is technologically the venue that Fifa will be most at home with," Mr Davies said.

"The customer experience they are likely to have at this stadium is going to be closer to the type they would have at top grounds all over the world."

Footballsouth general manager Bill Chisholm expects New Zealand Football will call for expressions of interest.

"I would say there is probably going to be some bidding system where we are competing with other centres to get a pool down here," he said.

"But it is the sort of thing the Forsyth Barr Stadium has been built for. It is not just a rugby stadium and this will be a good test for us to see if we can get our act together and put together a collective bid.

"Our headquarters are in Dunedin but we are representing Timaru right down to Queenstown and Invercargill. So we would have to look at how the other centres could get involved, too.

New Zealand has hosted two Fifa events - the under-17 women's championship in 2008, and the under-17 men's championship in 1999. Dunedin hosted a pool in 1999, at Carisbrook, and was also awarded a quarterfinal between Paraguay and Brazil.


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