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FIFA’s decision to award the FIFA U-20 World Cup 2011 to Colombia was received with joy and optimism across the country, with the issue of stadiums already a subject of debate. Colombia needs to improve its infrastructure in this regard and the inauguration of Deportivo Cali’s new arena (the first in the country to be owned by a club) is an auspicious sign. Cali are due to open their stadium, a magnificent 52,000 all-seater state-of the art venue offering all kinds of facilities, on 20 August. The arena is already in the running to host some matches in the tournament, as from the very outset Cali has been considered certain to be named a host city. The other candidates are Bogota (the capital), Medellin (the second city), Cartagena (the city that attracts the most tourists) and the “coffee-growers axis” consisting of the three neighbouring cities of Armenia, Pereira and Manizales. Barranquilla is another major city on the Pacific coast and has for many years played host to the Colombian national team, making it another sure-fire candidate. The main debate in Bogota is whether the time-honoured El Campin stadium should be renovated or a new stadium should be built, with the latter option apparently the most popular. The economy is thriving and the country is showing signs of growth in several areas, which has given rise to the hope that the tournament in 2011 will coincide with a good period in Colombian history.
Another country on the crest of a footballing wave is Ecuador, which is enjoying steady growth. In addition to qualifying for the last two FIFA World Cups™ (2002 and 2006), the country has also produced a winner of the Copa Libertadores, Liga Deportiva Universitaria de Quito, who beat Fluminense of Brazil in the final. Victory was sealed at the Maracana stadium in front of 90,000 fans. As a result, for the first time ever, the Ecuadorian football association will have four representatives when the tournament celebrates its 50th anniversary next year.