The glittering trophy – once held aloft by footballing superstars like Diego Maradona and Lionel Messi – will start a nationwide tour at the top of New Zealand’s North Island, before making its way down the country.
The trophy tour, kicking off on 5 May, will stop at 50-plus locations on the North and South Islands, before finishing up with a festival of football-related activities in Wellington, New Zealand’s capital city on 30 May – marking exactly one year until the official start of the FIFA U-20 World Cup 2015.
New Zealand tour
The trophy tour begins in Waitangi, in the beautiful Bay of Islands of New Zealand’s Northland, before travelling the length and breadth of the country stopping in at towns, schools, host cities – Whangarei, Auckland, Hamilton, New Plymouth, Wellington, Christchurch, Dunedin – and other tourist hotspots.
The trophy will even try to outshine the dazzling ‘One Ring to Rule Them All’ when it calls at The Hobbiton Movie Set in Matamata.
Auckland’s North Harbour Stadium, host of the opening and closing matches of the tournament, is set to get itself in the game with daytime events planned to celebrate reaching the one-year-to-go mark.
The feast of football will continue into the night as the New Zealand All Whites take on South Africa in an international friendly at Auckland’s Mt Smart Stadium.
The tour is unique to New Zealand as it is the first time the public have been allowed to see the trophy first hand so far in advance, in an event that is expected to give football fans a taste of the atmosphere, colour and fun that can be experienced when a tournament of this magnitude comes to town.
Hailed as one of the biggest sporting events in the world, the FIFA U-20 World Cup will see 24 international teams take part in 52 matches, in seven host cities around New Zealand in a bid to be crowned champions.
Broadcast to more than 1000 countries, with a global reach of around 170 million people, the tournament has been a launching pad for some of the biggest names in the global game with spectators having the chance to have their own ‘I was there’ moment.
It also gives overseas visitors the chance to explore New Zealand, with plenty of action and entertainment to be experienced on and off the pitch.
In conjunction with the trophy tour FIFA have announced kick-off times for the games. Group Matches across the seven host cities kick-off at either 1pm, 2pm, 4pm, 5pm, or 7pm with plenty of back-to-back double header action to keep everyone entertained.
Sunday, 14 June sees quarter-finals action in Auckland, Hamilton, Christchurch and Wellington. Four games played in one day on ‘Super Sunday’ with two matches kicking off at 1pm in Hamilton and Christchurch, then 4.30pm in Wellington and Auckland.
The world’s top four U-20 teams will have semi-finals on Wednesday 17 June at 4pm in Christchurch and 7.30pm in Auckland. Saturday, 20 June sees a 1.30pm third and fourth place kick-off, followed by the FIFA U-20 World Cup 2015 Final at 5pm.