New Zealand ready to host ‘festival of football’

Football fans can start planning their trip to watch the ‘beautiful game’ after the match schedule for the FIFA U-20 World Cup New Zealand 2015 was unveiled.

The biggest celebration of world football ever to hit New Zealand will kick-off with an opening ceremony at Auckland’s North Harbour Stadium - the official home of New Zealand football - on Saturday 30 May 2015, followed by the opening clash featuring the New Zealand U-20 team.

Dave Beeche, CEO of the FIFA U-20 World Cup New Zealand 2015, unveiled the match schedule on a glorious day in Wellington, New Zealand’s capital city. Seven cities from the North Island and South Island of New Zealand have been chosen to host games, giving visitors a chance to experience a range of adventures and landscapes across New Zealand.

Whangarei, Auckland, Hamilton, New Plymouth and Wellington on the North Island will host games, while Christchurch and Dunedin will represent the sport-loving South. The schedule sees four pool games played in two of the seven host cities daily - with plenty of double-header football action to whet the sporting appetite.

"This is a unique programme of matches and one which we believe will cater for every audience," Dave Beeche said.

Super Sunday

‘Super Sunday’ is likely to be become a key feature of the tournament. Four quarter-final games will take place on the same day - Sunday 14 June in Auckland, Hamilton, Wellington and Christchurch.

"Holding all four matches on the same day gives us a fantastic opportunity to really engage all sports fans. Many of the players in this tournament are plying their trade in Europe so it’s truly a unique opportunity to see some of the up and coming stars of world football on our doorstep," Beeche added.

Previous FIFA U-20 World Cups have helped launch the careers of some of the most prominent players in world football. New Zealand Football Foundation Chairman Andrew Clements believes New Zealand’s right to hold the tournament proves the country’s world football credentials are growing.

Fans will travel

Broadcast to more than 1000 countries, with a global reach of around 170 million people, the FIFA U-20 World Cup will also help promote New Zealand to the world. Around 10,000 overseas football fans are expected to travel to the country in support of their team.

"The match schedule is great news for fans who can start planning their holiday to New Zealand now," Tourism New Zealand’s Corporate Affairs GM Chris Roberts said.

"The wide regional spread of the seven host cities in a compact country like New Zealand creates a perfect opportunity to experience all of the country through this world class event."

During the three week tournament (30 May - 20 June 2015) New Zealand will play host to 24 international teams, with a total of 52 matches played. Match times are expected to be announced early in 2014 - with further announcements due after the qualification period.