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April 18, 2023 10:14 am

Argentina Replaces Indonesia as Host of FIFA U-20 World Cup Following Protest Over Israel’s Involvement


avatar by Shiryn Ghermezian

Argentina fans outside the stadium before a match between Argentina vs Panama in Buenos Aires, Argentina, on March 23, 2023. Photo: REUTERS/Emmanuel Fernandez

FIFA announced on Monday that Argentina will host the 2023 Under-20 World Cup after Indonesia was stripped of hosting rights due to protest in the country regarding the participation of Israeli athletes in the soccer tournament.

“FIFA is delighted to announce that this year’s edition of the FIFA U-20 World Cup will take place in Argentina, as the home of the world champions opens its doors to tomorrow’s superstars of world football,” FIFA President Gianni Infantino said in a statement. “I would like to thank the [Argentinian Football Association] AFA and particularly its President Claudio Tapia, as well as the governmental authorities, for their commitment to hosting this magnificent event at such short notice.”

He added that “having this year’s edition taking place in a country that lives and breathes football will be a tremendous inspiration for the stars of tomorrow.”

FIFA announced the decision to remove Indonesia as host of the U-20 World Cup on March 29, mere weeks before kick-off,  following protests in the capital against Israel’s involvement in the tournament and after Bali’s governor announced that he would not allow Israeli athletes on his island for the competition’s official draw. A number of Muslim groups in Indonesia also called for Israeli soccer players to be banned from the tournament. Indonesia is the world’s most populous Muslim-majority nation and the country has no formal diplomatic relations with Israel.

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AFA submitted a bid to be the new host of the U-20 World Cup and an inspection by a FIFA delegation of proposed tournament venues and other infrastructure in Argentina took place last week, FIFA said.

The hosting agreement has been signed by AFA and the Under-20 World Cup will take place in the South African nation from May 20 to June 11, following the draw that will be held in Zurich on April 21. Six groups of four teams will compete in the tournament and as the host, Argentina will automatically qualify to compete in the event instead of Indonesia.

Argentina has had more success in the U-20 World Cup than any other nation and has won the tournament six times, most recently in 2007, according to FIFA. The South American nation hosted the competition in 2001 and the tournament has featured great Argentinian soccer players such as Lionel Messi and Diego Armando Maradona.

This is the first year that Israel has qualified for the U-20 World Cup. They secured their spot in the competition when they became the runners-up at the 2022 UEFA European Under-19 Championship, trailing behind England in the finals.

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