CHICAGO (Thursday, March 6, 2003) - U.S. Soccer President Dr. S. Robert Contiguglia issued the following statement today in regards to the FIFA decision to delay the 2003 FIFA World Youth Championship scheduled for the United Arab Emirates from March 25-April 16, 2003.
Dr. S. Robert Contiguglia, U.S. Soccer President
“We have been monitoring this situation very closely since we qualified in November, and fully support the FIFA decision to postpone the tournament. The security of our players, coaches and administrators is always paramount in our planning for any international or domestic event, and if there are any concerns to those arrangements in staging the event at this time, then you have to applaud this decision.
“We have been in contact with the families of the team in regard to the tournament and have been working closely with FIFA and the U.S. government on their recommendation on the security issues surrounding this event. There has been a more concerted focus in our planning on the security details for this trip based on the current world climate and the location of the competition.
“We applaud the FIFA decision and look forward to competing in the event when it is rescheduled.”
From Portugal, where the U.S. Under-20 Men’s National Team is currently competing in the 7th Annual Madeira International Tournament, U.S. U-20 head coach Thomas Rongen said, “We understand that safety for the team in this setting is more important than a soccer tournament, and this is situation that warrants caution. We will still have this group ready and prepared for when the time comes to play. This group of players has worked extremely hard and is looking forward to showing their ability on the world stage."
The U.S. Under-20 Men’s National Team had been drawn into Group F in the tournament with Paraguay, Germany and Korea. The U.S. was scheduled to play Paraguay on March 27, Germany on March 30, and Korea on April 2. The U.S. is one of only five teams to qualify for the last four World Youth Championships, and one of only two teams (Brazil is the other) to finish in the top 15 in each of the last four tournaments.