Empty seats in Turkey's U-20 World Cup disappoint FIFA

AP, Monday 24 Jun 2013

FIFA disappointed with Under-20 World Cup attendance in troubled Turkey

Protester kicks away a tear gas canister during clashes with riot police near Taksim Square in Istanbul, Turkey, Saturday, June 22, 2013. (Photo: AP)

The empty seats that have greeted teams at the Under-20 World Cup in Turkey are a disappointment to FIFA.

Jim Boyce, the chairman of the FIFA Organizing Committee for the tournament, said Monday that he "was very disappointed" with the turnout that has averaged only 4,828 spectators for the first 12 matches at the six sites. If the trend continues, it would be the lowest attendance ever for an Under-20 World Cup dating back to 1977 — the next lowest being an average of 9,667 in the Netherlands in 2005.

The embarrassing sight of near-empty stadiums could hurt Turkey's chances of hosting bigger events in the future. It is competing against Madrid and Tokyo for the right to host the 2020 Olympics.

Currently, Turkey is witnessing violent anti-government protests that have gripped Istanbul and other cities in recent weeks.

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