The U-17 World Cup mascot (LOC)

(WFI) FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke kicks off his last visit to Brazil today before the June 15-30 Confederations Cup.

He travelled to Natal on Monday accompanied by LOC board members Ronaldo and Bebeto and deputy sports minister Luís Fernandes. He will inspect the host stadium at 15:00 local time.

The Frenchman heads to Brasília late today for meetings with sports minister Aldo Rebelo and a stadium visit.

His host city tour ends in Rio de Janeiro on Wednesday with a visit to the Maracanã. An LOC board meeting takes place on Thursday.

FIFA last week said that more than 588,178 tickets had been sold for the Confederations Cup, leaving around 238,450 still available.

The current sales phase concludes on Wednesday. The last remaining tickets will then be sold during the last-minute-sales phase both online via FIFA.com/ticketing and over the counter at one of the FIFA Venue Ticketing Centres in the six host cities, starting June 1.

Europa League Final

Benfica take on Chelsea in the UEFA Europa League final on Wednesday at the Amsterdam ArenA.

The London club beat the Portuguese giants in both legs of last season’s UEFA Champions League quarter-final tie on their way to lifting the trophy.

U-17 World Cup Mascot

The FIFA U-17 World Cup mascot Shaqran was unveiled today by the LOC and FIFA in the United Arab Emirates.

Tournament director Mohammed Abdulla bin Bdoua, said: “Falcons are a potent symbol of our nation and represent great strength and determination, two qualities present in all 24 qualifying teams for this tournament. Shaqran therefore emerged as the perfect name for our event ambassador and mascot.”

Organisers plan to use the mascot to engage with football fans, especially youngsters across the Emirates during the build-up to the biggest celebration of football in the country’s history.

“We continually aim to select FIFA U-17 World Cup mascots that fans from the host country can relate to and are familiar with,” said Inaki Alvarez, FIFA deputy director of competitions.

The 15th edition of the FIFA U-17 World Cup takes place across six cities – Abu Dhabi, Al Ain, Dubai, Fujairah, Sharjah and Ras Al Khaimah – from Oct. 17 to Nov. 8. A total of 52 matches will be played in these stadiums: Mohammed Bin Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi, Emirates Stadium in Ras Al Khaimah, Fujairah Stadium in Fujairah, Sharjah Stadium in Sharjah, Rashid Stadium in Dubai and Khalifa Bin Zayed Stadium, Al Ain.

Refs for U-20 World Cup

FIFA today appointed the 69 referees who will take charge of the 52-match U-20 World Cup in Turkey this summer.

The June 21 to July 13 youth tournament is being played in the seven venues of Antalya, Bursa, Gaziantep, Istanbul, Kayseri, Rize and Trabzon.

New CONCACAF Gold Cup

The CONCACAF Gold Cup trophy will be unveiled on Tuesday in Mexico City.

The new trophy for the region’s most important national team competition will be made public for the first time at the Hotel Camino Real de Polanco at 12:00 noon, in an event presented by Banco Santander, new sponsor of the Gold Cup.
The event will be attended by CONCACAF general secretary Enrique Sanz, the Mexican Football Federation president Justino Compeán and Banco Santander.

By INSIDER’s Mark Bisson

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