General Organisation

Mohamed Kathiri (Oman) earns the adidas Golden Ball Francisco Maturana (Colombia, Ecuadorian national coach) and FIFA President Dr João Havelange present Mohamed Kathiri (Oman) with the adidas Golden Ball for the best player of the tournament.
by Walter Gagg
director of FIFA's Sport Division

The third U17 World Championship held in the superb Andean beauty of Ecuador was a continuation of the competition started in 1985 for the youngest age category. The first three events in this series were recorded as world tournaments, but starting in 1991 (Italy) the title of a world championship was awarded. In 1993 the competition had been held in Japan, and now it was south America's turn to host the best young players in the world (in fact Ecuador had been the intended venue in 1991, but for well-known reasons the competition then had to be called off at short notice).

Although some of the host cities did not give a totally positive impression even shortly before the tournament began, the local organisation committee remained convinced that all the preparatory work would be completed before the starting date. Their faith in the improvisational skills of Latin America proved justified, and the first matches were played on schedule on 3 and 4 August 1995, under good conditions. But to offer unrestricted praise to the organisers would be going too far. Although most of the committee members were engaged heart and soul in the venture, there were still too many minor problems and organisational hitches that gave rise to unnecessary tension and nervousness.

Stadiums

The 32 games were played in six stadiums, each in a different city. The first round matches took place in the highlands of Ecuador, in the capital Quito and the mountain towns of Cuenca, Ibarra and Riobamba, while the second round and the finals were played at sea level in Portoviejo and Guayaquil.

The Brazilian coach, Toninho Barroso The Brazilian coach, Toninho Barroso, with the Fair Play Trophy and diploma.
The infrastructure was rated on the whole between good and very good, even though just a few weeks before the kick-off date some of the work was behind schedule to an extent that gave rise to doubts that it would be finished in time. However, the repeated promises of the organisation committee members were turned into deeds; the changing rooms were equipped with the necessary facilities, the media quarters were ready for occupation and the pitches themselves were up to the standard required for high quality football. The training pitches available also met the strict requirements set down by FIFA. However, for future competitions, early checks will have to be made to avoid the uncertainty that prevailed almost until the competition began.

Transport

Despite the difficult driving along unbelievably twisty mountain roads and the traffic problems in Guayaquil, the transport side of the tournament functioned perfectly. The teams used either buses or chartered planes, with officials and referees travelling in good quality private cars or on scheduled flights.

However, events were overshadowed by the death of one of the drivers provided by the local organisation committee. When FIFA's base was moved from Quito to Guayaquil, a number of vehicles were involved in the transfer. For reasons that have not yet been cleared up, the driver assigned to the deputy general secretary of FIFA lost control of his vehicle and plunged off the road. We would like to offer his widow and his four children our deepest sympathy. Although money cannot compensate for the loss of a husband and father, FIFA has given financial support to the unfortunate family.

Accommodation and Food

The Brazilians in their living quarters The Brazilians in their living quarters: unfortunately not every team, referee or delegate felt as much as home as the South Americans here in Ibarra.
In terms of accommodation and food great differences in quality were noticeable, so that not all the delegations had only words of praise for the choice of hotels that had been made for them. The health and well-being of all the players, delegations and match officials is of great importance, and more attention must be paid to this in the future.

Safety

This was another competition which was fortunately not affected by any unruly behaviour or hooliganism. The measures put into force by the government left no room for unpleasant behaviour, and not a single incident was reported to us from any of the six venues.

However, inside the stadiums the security measures were not all that they might have been. Again and again unauthorised persons and/or media representatives were allowed access to areas that should have been exclusive to the players and the match officials.

Final comments

Mohamed Kathiri (Oman) earns the adidas Golden Ball The symbolic presentation of the adidas Golden Shoe for the best goal scorer (Daniel Allsop, Australia) by Dr João Havelange (centre) and Carlos Coello Martinez (Ecuador, on left), a member of the Executive Committee of FIFA.
The country of Ecuador itself, with its colourful cities, its hospitable people with their enormous enthusiasm for football, will long be remembered by those who took part and will go down in football history.

In addition to the new rules which came into effect on 1 July 1995, two new ideas were tried out; one a repeat trial (time-out) and the other quite new (availability of extra balls around the pitch). Although the time-out did not find favour with all the experts, the extra ball idea did. This experiment had already been tried at the Women's World Cup in Sweden, and with no other change in the rule it led to an increase in playing time of about 10 minutes per game, or in total about 3 1/2 hours for the whole tournament based on games of 90 minutes. This trial is definitely worth repeating (and in fact the Swedish Association has been using this idea for years).

The uncomplicated and uncalculating style of play shown by these youngsters, not too tied down by tactical considerations, was a breath of fresh air for football fans. The sheer delight in playing shown by the winners, Ghana, the individual skills of the Nigerians, the delicate balance between skill and tactics shown by Argentina, the rhythm of the Brazilians' attacks and the exciting wing play of the surprising Oman team, showed everyone what joy there is in the game and that there is no need to worry about the future - it is safe in the hands of young players like these. Good football, played by skillful and sporting players will continue to demonstrate the strength of the world's number one sport.

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