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Ponte and Abe attended FIFA evaluation  

The FIFA evaluation team visited Saitama Stadium 2002 and Ponte and Yuki Abe of Urawa Reds attended the evaluation. This evaluation was carried out as part of Japan’s bid to host the 2022 FIFA World Cup.

The FIFA evaluation was carried out by 5 delegates appointed by FIFA. The delegates visited Osaka, Saitama and Tokyo from 19th to 22nd July. Saitama Stadium is one of the 13 stadiums that Japan proposed to FIFA. The stadium has already met the condition (to have 60,000 and above attendees) in order for Japan to hold World Cup group and semi final games. As one of the biggest football stadiums in Asia, a lot of supporters visit Saitama Stadium to watch J.league matches and enjoy football on a regular basis. Saitama Stadium was the only stadium in Japan that the delegates visited during their evaluation this time around. Yuki Abe who played in the 2010 FIFA World Cup held in South Africa and Ponte who has experience playing for clubs in South America, Europe and Japan and is good in languages were invited as supporting staff.

Ponte and Abe welcomed the 5 delegates at the main entrance of the stadium together with Chairman Motoaki Inukai of Japan’s World Cup Bid Committee and Governor Kiyoshi Ueda.
They shook hands with Head of the evaluation team, Harold Mayne-Nicholls (Chilean Football Federation President) and the other delegates. After entering the stadium, the team viewed the locker room, pitch, VIP seating area, royal box and VIP lounge. Ponte and Abe also exchanged some words with the team during their evaluation and attended the presentation held at the ballroom.
After the 1 hour evaluation at Saitama Stadium, Ponte and Abe took photos together with the team and saw them off with smiles on their faces.

“It was a very important day. Personally, I feel that the team has a good impression of Saitama Stadium. Saitama Stadium does not have any problems and can be a World Cup stadium. There were some Brazilians and Germans in the team so I talked to them a little. I think we were able to give them a good impression. They said the stadium is well organized for the supporters and it is a wonderful stadium.

If the World Cup is held at Saitama Stadium, not only I but also Reds supporters and residents in Saitama will be very happy and I believe it will happen.
I am very honored to play such a role. As a Reds player and a Saitama resident, I am very honored to have been present. I hope we can work together in order to host the World Cup in Saitama.”

Yuki Abe
“I hope they can understand that Japan has many wonderful stadiums like Saitama Stadium. Of course, it would be better if they could watch football at the stadium, but I hope they can see the good points that Saitama Stadium has and we can host the World Cup in Japan. It is a big event and we have to prepare a lot of things. This experience today has given me the opportunity to learn a different perspective. I really hope that we can host the World Cup again in Japan.”

【Urawa Reds Official Media (URD:OM)】