The FIFA Futsal World Cup Colombia 2016 is fast approaching. Indeed, the build-up has already begun, as shown by the event held on Tuesday 19 April at the Reynaldo Orduz Auditorium in Bucaramanga's Parque del Agua water park, which witnessed the launch of the Official Mascot, the logos of the Host Cities and the first phase of ticket sales – all key aspects of the tournament set to take place from 10 September to 1 October.
Other notable figures present included the Mayor of Bucaramanga, Engr. Rodolfo Hernandez Suarez; the Governor of Santander, Didier Tavera Jaime; FIFA Event Manager Jaime Yarza; Director of Coldeportes, Andrés Botero; and the Director of the Local Organising Committee (LOC), Ivan Novella.
"Let us receive you, and all the national teams with their delegations, that from diverse places of the world will come to our land to be welcome with open arms...From today you are all 'santandereanos' (from Santander) like any of us, because who 'steps on Santander's land, is from Santander'," said Governor Tavera, while some 150 guests and 40 representatives from the domestic and international press listened on intently.
Fittingly, Bucaramanga's logo for the tournament was the first to be presented, through a video showing images of the city and featuring a soundtrack of typical regional music, before the logos for Cali and Medellin respectively got the same treatment. Between them, these three venues will be playing host to the competition's 24 teams and 52 matches.
Ticket sales up and running
After the Match Schedule was brought up on the big screen, this was followed by one of the highlights of the night: the official launch of ticket sales. During this initial phase, fans will be able to purchase Stadium Passports, which offer one ticket of the category of the buyer's choice to every single game in a particular Host City. The special incentive is that a 30 per cent discount will be on offer at this time.
"From a personal point of view, I really want to invite all fans to come to the World Cup matches," said Yarza. "Even though we still don't know all the qualified teams, we can already promise a great competition: besides powerhouses like Brazil, Spain, Italy, Russia and Iran, we will also have Azerbaijan, a debutant at the tournament, and Vietnam, a country that had never qualified for a FIFA event before. The level of playing will be very high, and those who attend the stadiums will be very impressed."
The second phase will begin on 20 May, the day after the Official Draw takes place in Medellin. From this date, individual tickets for every fixture will be available at the normal price.
The first people who will have the chance to get their hands on tickets are customers of Visa, whose cards are the preferred payment method for the FIFA Futsal World Cup Colombia 2016. This exclusive period for Visa cardholders runs up until 3 June and will include a 20 per cent discount on Stadium Passports.
The third and final phase will get underway on 3 June. Stadium Passports will no longer be up for grabs, but all supporters will be able to buy tickets at this point using any payment method. For more information, go to http://www.fifa.com/Colombia2016.
A bear with glasses!
The most eagerly awaited moment came towards the end of the event. Preceded by jungle noises, a pitter-patter and footprints on the wall leading to the stage, the tournament's Official Mascot – a fun-and-football-loving spectacled bear and the Colombian national team kit – made his appearance. The type of bear in question is one of the most iconic animals in the region: indeed, it is one of the faces of Parques Nacionales Naturales de Colombia, the organisation tasked with protecting the biodiversity of the country's nature reserves, and is also classed as part of Colombia's natural heritage.
The mascot is energetic, adores sport and embodies the pleasure of playing football. Furthermore, it is friendly, smart and talented, attributes that make it the perfect ambassador for the tournament and for futsal in general.