FIFA U-20 sets attendance record
The FIFA U-20 World Cup has drawn the most spectators of any single-sport event in Canadian history, tournament organizers said Thursday.
According to FIFA, more than 400,000 spectators attended the first 16 games of the biennial competition, 11 of which have been completely sold out.
"FIFA is immensely proud that our Canadian friends have surpassed this milestone," said Jack Warner, FIFA vice-president.
"Having officially broken the record for the largest single-sport event in Canada, it is now time to set our sights higher— let's go for the number one attended FIFA U-20 World Cup in history."
Peter Montopoli, the national event director for the FIFA U-20 World Cup, said the "milestone is a true credit to Canadians across this country."
"We have achieved our initial target of over 400,000 spectators in record time with 11 sell-outs in the first 16 matches," Montopoli said.
On Tuesday, FIFA announced that ticket sales for the 52-game tournament topped the one million mark.
The 1983 tournament in Mexico set the competition's all-time attendance record with 1.15 million fans passing through the turnstiles. The maximum number of tickets available for this summer's tournament in Canada is 1.3 million.
The 2005 competition in the Netherlands sold 502,698 tickets.
Strong tickets sales and a successfully run tournament could help Canada secure hosting duties for other FIFA events in the future.
The Canadian Soccer Association has publicly stated that it wants to stage the 2011 FIFA Women's World Cup in Canada.
"FIFA can see how well this tournament is doing. They're delighted with the way things are going and in the future if any tournaments have a chance of coming back to Canada, we can go to them and say how well we ran the U-20 tournament," soccer commentator Craig Forrest told CBCSports.ca.
"I'm confident, for my money, this will be the most successful U-20 World Cup ever."