Turkey’s appeal as a world-class sporting destination grew this week when FIFA President Joseph Blatter met Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan in advance of the Under 20 Football World Cup, which takes place in the country from 21st June to 13th July.
“This is FIFA’s first competition in Turkey and we have very high expectations,” said Blatter at the meeting in Ankara on 7th May, “but we are confident it will be a great event. I encouraged the Prime Minister that Turkey uses the FIFA U-20 World Cup as an international showcase for Istanbul’s bid for the 2020 Olympic Games.”
During their meeting, Blatter and Erdogan are also said to have discussed Istanbul’s bid for the 2020 Olympic Games and football development in the country.
The popular city and resort of Antalya on Turkey’s Mediterranean coast will host the tournament’s group stage games for Group E, which includes England, Chile, Iraq and Egypt. Games will be played at the city’s Akdeniz University Stadium. Antalya city’s most famous club is Antalyaspor, but it is also the hometown of Rustu Recber, the legendary former Turkey goalkeeper, who played 120 matches with the national team over a 16-year international career.
Thanks to its balmy year-round climate, Antalya also becomes the football capital of Europe during winter as more than 1,000 teams use the city as their base for winter camps.
As Turkey’s largest coastal tourist resort, Antalya was the world’s third-most visited city in 2011 based on the number of international arrivals. While the smaller resorts of Alanya, Side and Belek are within striking distance of the city, Antalya has its own sandy beaches too, namely Konyaaltı in the centre and Lara in the east, which complement its excellent choice of restaurants and lively nightlife.