Blatter, Turkish PM Talk U-20 World Cup, Olympics

President Sepp Blatter says FIFA is confident Turkey will stage “a great event” when the U-20 World Cup kicks off in six weeks.

Sepp Blatter with Turkish PM Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Sports Minister Suat Kilic (FIFA)

“This is FIFA’s first competition in Turkey and we have very high expectations,” the Swiss said Tuesday after meeting with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and senior officials from the Turkish Football Federation, including President Yildirim Demiroren, FIFA Executive Committee member Senes Erzik and TFF Vice President and Local Organizing Committee President Servet Yardimci.

“The Prime Minister is a great personality,” said Blatter. “He highlighted that Turkey is very happy to welcome 23 teams from all over the world. Their aim is to be an excellent host which is great to hear. We trust Turkey will do everything which needs to be done to fill the stadiums.”
Erdogan and Blatter also touched upon Istanbul’s bid for the 2020 Olympics.
“I encouraged the Prime Minister that Turkey uses the FIFA U-20 World Cup as an international showcase for Istanbul’s bid for the 2020 Olympic Games,” said the FIFA president.

Platini Praises Euro 2016 Preparations

UEFA President Michel Platini says “preparations for EURO 2016 in France are proceeding in the right direction” following the latest meeting of the tournament’s steering group.
Michel Platini is flanked by Lille Mayor Martine Aubry and France’s sports minister Valérie Fourneyron. (UEFA)
“The construction and renovation of stadiums in France represents a fabulous legacy for the local economies,” he said Tuesday in Lille after meeting with key stakeholders from UEFA, the French Football Federation, the French government and the host cities. 
“Today it is not possible to have major clubs or companies without a major stadium,” added the Frenchman.
According to an Associated Press report, organizers are planning to use between nine and 11 stadiums for Euro 2016, two of which – the Stade de France and Lille’s new 50,000-seat stadium – are ready.
“This morning we examined the state of progress of the ten stadiums … and globally, we are advancing very well,” said Jacque Lambert, the former CEO of the organizing committee for the 1998 FIFA World Cup in France and of the FFF who chairs the steering group this time around. 
“We also discussed details about various issues, such as the search for team bases. We are working to maximize the social and economic consequences of this EURO tournament in France. Everything is moving forward in the best way.”
Maracana Test Event Cancelled
Rio de Janeiro’s refurbished Maracana will undergo only one test match before the 2013 FIFA Confederations Cup kicks off June 15.
Rio’s Maracana as seen during its April 27 inauguration. (Getty)
Reuters reports that city officials cancelled Tuesday a test event scheduled for May 15 in favor of “a series of simulations of the facilities,” according to a government statement.
That leaves just a June 2 friendly against England for organizers to see the stadium – which reopened in late April, four months late, following $448 million in renovations – at its full capacity of 78,000.
The new Maracana will host three matches during the Confederations Cup in addition to roles at the 2014 World Cup and 2016 Summer Olympics.
Also Tuesday, FIFA expressed concerns over the status of Sao Paulo’s Arena Corinthians, which will stage the opening match of next summer’s showpiece.
“The technical teams of FIFA and the local organizing committee have reinforced the tight monitoring on all remaining six FIFA World Cup stadiums not only limited to Sao Paulo,” world football’s governing body told The Associated Press.
“FIFA is for sure concerned as it is vital that the firm deadline of December 2013 will be kept.”
By INSIDER’s Matthew Grayson

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