Soccer

FIFA U-20 losses surpassed by economic impact

The successful FIFA U-20 World Cup may have suffered losses of almost $2 million, but the tournament's economic impact country wide is its legacy, says a report from the Canadian Sport Tourism Alliance.

The highly successful FIFA U-20 World Cup may have suffered losses of almost $2 million, but the tournament's economic impact country wideis its legacy, says a report from the Canadian Sport Tourism Alliance.

Canada made an impact on the international soccer scene and earned the praises of FIFA president Joseph S. Blatter hosting the 24-team men's youth tournament this past summer in six Canadian cities.

The event, which ran June 30-July 22 in Toronto, Montreal, Ottawa, Edmonton, Victoria and Burnaby, B.C., was the largest single sport event held in Canada, and set a new U-20 attendance record of 1,156,187,compared to theprevious mark of 1,155,160 set in Mexico 24 years earlier.

However, the hype of hosting the most successful tournament in Canadian history wore off this fall when an internal Canadian Soccer Association financial documents showed five of the six Canadian host cities lost money — just over $1.7 million, to be exact.

A representative from the CSA told CBC's Tom Harrington last week that unexpected costs, such as thereinstallation of new turf at Olympic Stadium in Montreal, extra security (especially in Toronto) and other unexpected upgrades (such as television lighting) were the main causes for the losses.

FIFA will absorb most of those costs because they were unforeseen requirements.Soccer's world governing body had already committed $2 million before the tournament began for such cases.

Tournament director Peter Montopoli told the Globe and Mail over the weekend that financial projections are only 70 per cent complete.

"The numbers aren't final yet, [the tournament budget] is still a work in progress and all the numbers aren't in yet," he said. "At the end of the day, we are always looking for a break-even scenario. But it is not an accurate final financial picture because we are still opening up invoices."

It's not all bad news on the financial front, however.

An economic impact assessment report from the Canadian Sport Tourism Alliance released Wednesday says the tournament contributed about $114 million to the GDP and generated an estimated $259.02 million in economic activity throughout the four host provinces.As well, 1,700 jobs were created for the tournament.

"Sport tourism is about economic development — creating jobs and economic benefits for whole communities," said Rick Traer, CEO of the Canadian Sport Tourism Alliance.

"The tournament dramatically impacted local and regional businesses in the host communities and also provided excellentreturn on investmenton the public sector's investment in the event through the taxes and employment figures generated in key sectors of our economy."

Over 750 athletes, coaches and officials took part in the FIFA U-20 World Cup, considered one of the hottest tickets of the summer.

Games inToronto and Burnaby were sold out, while Victoria and Ottawa enjoyed to more than 95 per cent capacity.

In Montreal, the tournament registered the third-highest attendance in history, for a quarter-final match between Chile and Nigeria, drawing 46,252 fans. AtEdmonton's Commonwealth Stadium, 32,058 spectators showed up when Canada squared off against Congo, more than doubling the previous attendance mark in that city.

Canada, along with Germany, is one of the finalists to host the 2011 FIFA Women's World Cup. A decision on the host country is expected on Oct. 29.

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