x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 January 2018

Free spirited football

The free ticketing policy has been one of the many successes of the Fifa Under 17 World Cup tournament.

After a shade over three weeks, the Fifa Under 17 World Cup draws to a close this evening.

Tonight’s final, which kicks off in Abu Dhabi at 8pm, has all the hallmarks of a potential classic, pitting two football heavyweights against each other: Nigeria, the 2007 winners and runners-up in 2009, will play Mexico, the reigning champions. Argentina and Sweden, meanwhile, will play-off for third place at the Mohammed bin Zayed Stadium at 5pm, making for a very satisfying and potentially spectacular double-header.

By effectively hosting one of the biggest football tournaments on the Fifa calendar, the UAE has set a “high standard in terms of both the quality of football played and the excellent organisation”, as Rafael Salguero, the chairman of the organising committee for the Fifa Under 17 World Cup, put it.

The staging of this tournament in the Arab world for the first time has also given thousands of fans the chance to watch the cream of the world’s young footballers in action – and to do so without having to pay for the privilege. The tournament’s policy of handing out free tickets has been one of the many successes of this festival of football.