Fifa U-20 World Cup organisers unveiled
New Zealand Football have unveiled the local committee charged with planning the world's second-biggest international football tournament, to be held on Kiwi shores in 2015.
And they've hinted at where the games for the $24m-funded Fifa Under-20 World Cup might be hosted.
NZF chair Frank van Hattum said the tournament was the largest football event ever hosted in New Zealand and would be viewed by around 400 million people.
''Fifa Under-20 World Cup will bring a festival of international football to New Zealand as a skill level never seen here before.
''Some of the teams will be all-professional, with many players experienced in the world's top clubs and as senior national representatives.''
He said the likes of Lionel Messi, ''and any other top player you can name'' had played in U-20 world cups at one time.
The local organising committee (LOC), chaired by Bill Moran, would prepare the country for the arrival of an official Fifa inspection tour in January 2013.
The Fifa officials would consider the LOC's recommendations before naming the cities to host the tournament.
Moran said nine New Zealand cities had put their hands up to host games - the 13 cities who hosted the Rugby World Cup were all approached to host games.
The organisers would not say which cities had declined the invitation, but said that between six to eight cities would ultimately be selected.
Including the play-off games and finals, the 24 nations will play 52 matches.
Moran said one host city would host to the trifecta of the final, the 3rd/4th play-off game, and one of the semi-finals. He would not be drawn on whether that city might be Wellington, the home of the Wellington Phoenix; Auckland, the host of the Rugby World Cup final; or another city.
New Zealand also hosted the U-17 men's World Cup in 1999 and the U-17 women's World Cup in 2008.
He said the country could expect less visitors than for the Rugby World Cup, but the benefits of the tournament would be wide-reaching.
''The longer term return is people seeing New Zealand on television and wanting to come here.
''This is our third event since 1999 and probably very few Fifa countries have done that.''
Stringent Fifa match criteria meant host cities would need to ensure their football pitches were only used for football during the tournament, and were not used at all for about a month before the competition began.
The tournament has been provisionally set for June 19-July 11, meaning Super Rugby games during that period will be disrupted and played on alternate grounds.