Summary of the Championship

Obvious conclusion to the tournament analysis: the winners, Ghana, were without doubt the most allround team in the FIFA/JVC Cup.
The final between Ghana and Brazil was the high point of this thoroughly successful tournament. As a football-loving country, Ecuador proved to be an ideal venue. What this Andean country had to offer, with its colourful cities, superb coastal scenery, the unspoiled beauty of the jungle and above all the unique Galapagos Islands, will be eternal memories for all the players and officials who took part.

It was originally planned that the 1991 U-17 World Championship would be held in Ecuador, but a cholera epidemic prevented that idea from being fulfilled and so the event was switched to Italy that year. Even in 1995 it was for a long time by no means certain that the tournament could be held here, because of political unrest between Peru and Ecuador. However the conflict was settled in time and so the U-17 World Championship came to south America for the first time.

Much was said and written before the competition began about possible high altitude problems. Some national associations expressed concern about the health of players and officials. However, the tournament ran very smoothly and without incident, so that those who had been critical of this choice of venue soon became silent.

Tournament Regulations
Some delegations were unhappy that the last round of group matches could not be played at exactly the same time. Yet all the teams behaved very sportingly and played attacking football in their final group games too, intent in winning. FIFA is always concerned about providing equal opportunities for all teams at all times. But here in Ecuador the fact that the cities in which the matches were played did not have two suitable stadiums available meant that these games could not be played simultaneously, unless some of the teams travelled to a new venue.

There was also some discussion about the kick-off times. Not all the teams were pleased with the idea of starting just before or around midday, since:

  1. in competitions like this, games usually take place in the afternoon or evening. Thus in addition to the climatic adjustment, players had to get used to a new daily rhythm.
  2. the sun's intensity is at its greatest at around midday, which could be a problem at this altitude (2500 to 2800 m)

The new points system (three points for a win, one for a draw, none for a defeat), which has been in force worldwide since 1.7.95, was naturally used in Ecuador 1995. Although the total of 84 goals was not an increase, the games were definitely more attractive. Only four games ended as draws, two of them goal-less. In Japan 1993 there had been six draws.

Another change was the increase of playing time from 80 to 90 minutes. Even at the altitude of Quito and the other venues this did not turn out to be a wrong move. It was not observed that players had serious conditional problems towards the end of a game. The fact that most goals were scored during the last 30 minutes of matches was less due to players running out of steam than to their willingness to take more risks at this stage. However, it is interesting that some continental federations have not adopted this change for their own championships (e.g. Africa and Europe).

A further change was in the regulations concerning eligibility of players. Anyone who had already played in the final round of a FIFA Competition (WYC Qatar '95 or U-17 World Championship 1993) could not be nominated for Ecuador 1995, even if still young enough to qualify. However, if a player had taken part only in the continental qualifying round 1992/93 for the U-17 World Championship 1993, then he would be allowed to compete this time, provided of course that he was under the age limit.

Experiments with the Rules

Only 45 out of 128 possible time-outs were called. Opinions as to whether this tactical device has a future differ widely.
The following experiments with the rules were tried out at this championship:
  1. The "Golden Goal" during extra time
  2. Time out

There was no opportunity to test the Golden Goal, rule since every game in the knockout stages of the competition was decided within regular playing time.

The right to time out was used at least once by every team, with the exception of Ghana and Guinea (giving a total of 45 times outs, out of a possible 128, or 35.2%). Guinea's not wanting to take advantage of this opportunity was surprising, since they in particular has serious tactical problems and would well have benefited from the coach being able to give extra and timely instructions. Opinions differ about whether the time out will affect the degree of influence a coach can have on his team. Particularly at junior levels, where players are still learning the game, the time out would seem to have advantages. But otherwise, officials seemed to be rather against it. The current situation seemed to be acceptable to coaches. There is also a problem of logistics for matches in lower leagues, where the fourth match official who would be needed to deal with time-out requests is unlikely to be available, and so another solution to the problem would have to be found in that situation.

On the other hand, the placing of extra balls behind the goals and down the sidelines proved valuable. Loss of time during throw-ins and goalkicks was kept to a minimum, and an average increase of almost 10 minutes in playing time (compared to Qatar '95) was the result.

The guidelines for referees - strict adherence to the rules for punishing unfair play and time wasting - also found a positive echo in Ecuador. This led to a total of 107 yellow cards and 10 expulsions (four of these for a second yellow card) - more than ever before at a U-17 World Championship. Yet this should not be taken as a sign that the matches were not played fairly. It was simply that the referees did their job exactly according to instructions.

Visit to SOS Children's Village

Dr. Joćo Havelange, President of FIFA, signing fair play T-shirts in the SOS children's village.
During one of the few breaks in the schedule, FIFA President Dr. João Havelange took the opportunity to visit the SOS Children's Village in the south of Quito, one of several in Ecuador and part of a world wide chain with which FIFA has close connections.

1997 in Egypt

The next U-17 World Championship will be held in Egypt, in the cities of Port Said, Cairo, Ismailia and Alexandria. This will be a big challenge for the Egyptian Association, and the first occasion on which this tournament will be held on the African continent.