The 22nd edition of the FIFA U-20 World Cup kicks off in less than 90 days, and two major milestones were reached this weekend as the tournament in Poland approaches.
Grzywek, a Polish bison, was unveiled as the tournament's Official Mascot on Saturday 23 February, while the following day the 24 participating teams discovered who they will face at the world's most important youth tournament after the group stage draw was made at the Gdynia Arena.
FIFA legends Bebeto, who won the U-20 World Cup in 1983 and the FIFA World Cup in 1994; and Fernando Couto, who lifted the U-20 title in 1989, made the draw in front of numerous coaches and icons of Polish football.
Hosts Poland will face Colombia in the opening match on 23 May and have been drawn in the same group as Senegal - all three sides met at the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™ during the group stage.
"I will be here during the summer, not only to enjoy the games but also to discover the culture of Poland,” said FIFA Secretary General Fatma Samoura. "The FIFA U-20 World Cup is a way for young players to demonstrate their talents and it is the second oldest FIFA competition, watched by more than 13 million people. Tickets are very affordable, so we hope for packed stadiums in the six host cities of Poland."
"We are pleased that FIFA have trusted in us to organise this great event,” said Zbigniew Boniek, President of the Polish Football Association. “The tournament will be a big success, made together by FIFA and the Polish FA. Everyone will have the chance to experience Polish hospitality, our openness to others, our cuisine and our fantastic fans. This tournament is organised in a special year for us as we celebrate 100 years of the Polish FA. It makes this event even more special for us."
"The FIFA U-20 World Cup in 1983 was one of the highlights of my career," said Bebeto. "Not only because of the matches but also because of the atmosphere, the stadiums and the whole event. As a country with a great footballing history and tradition, Poland will undoubtedly stage a fantastic tournament."
"I know from personal experience that the U-20 World Cup is extremely demanding and exciting," said Couto. "Anybody could win it. A lot of teams could go a long way, including the hosts. Polish fans and visiting supporters can look forward to a spectacular competition where there will be lots of attacking football on show."
The groups at a glance
Group A: Poland, Colombia, Tahiti, Senegal Group B: Mexico, Italy, Japan, Ecuador Group C: Honduras, New Zealand, Uruguay, Norway Group D: Qatar, Nigeria, Ukraine, USA Group E: Panama, Mali, France, Saudi Arabia Group F: Portugal, Korea Republic, Argentina, South Africa