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Manco, Lula, Fabio and Nimo

Between 18 August and 9 September, the Republic of Korea will host the twelfth FIFA U-17 World Cup. For the first time in its history, the tournament that has for many players served as a springboard for later success will be contested by 24 teams.

Ronaldinho, Pablo Aimar, Juan Sebastian Veron, Alessandro del Piero, Francesco Totti, Luis Figo, Hidetoshi Nakata, Landon Donovan, Nwankwo Kanu, Celestine Babayaro, Cesc Fabregas, Emmanuel Petit – what do these top football names have in common? They all launched their international careers at the FIFA U-17 World Cup. In all, 67 players who have appeared in the event have later gone on to take part in the FIFA World Cup TM – four of them have even lifted the trophy in the flagship tournament (Petit in 1998, Ronaldinho in 2002, Del Piero and Totti in 2006).
Between 18 August and 9 September, the Republic of Korea will host this year’s FIFA U-17 World Cup. Taking place for the twelfth time, the 2007 event will be the first to be contested by 24 rather than 16 teams. The local organizing committee hopes that the tournament’s 52 matches across the eight venues of Changwon, Cheonan, Goyang, Gwangyang, Seogwipo, Seoul, Suwon and Ulsan will attract over a million spectators. The tournament’s current attendance recorded dates from its debut in 1985, when 1.23 million people flocked to 32 matches in the People’s Republic of China, an average of 38,500 per game. By contrast, the 1991 event in Italy attracted 37,000 fans – not per match but for the entire tournament.
The 2007 U-17 World Cup in Korea has already aroused far more interest than was apparent in Italy 16 years ago, with television coverage of the event set to be broadcast in over 140 countries. Tickets sales are going well thanks to attractive prices – from USD 2.10 up to USD 7.40 a ticket – and the appealing field of teams promises top-quality, attacking football from the stars of tomorrow.