FIFA has confirmed that Argentina will stage the Under-20 World Cup from May 20 to June 11, replacing Indonesia as host.
Football’s world governing body released a statement announcing the decision on Monday afternoon, just hours after the Argentine Football Association (AFA) had staged a press conference with government officials in Buenos Aires, at which they declared that the financial backing was in place to put on the tournament.
The decision means that Argentina, who failed to qualify for the tournament, will now participate as the host nation, taking Indonesia’s place.
"FIFA is delighted to announce that this year's FIFA U-20 World Cup will take place in Argentina, which means that the country of the reigning world champions will open its doors to the world football stars of tomorrow," FIFA president Gianni Infantino said in the statement
The draw for the tournament "will take place on Friday 21 April at the Home of FIFA in Zurich,” it read.
In its release, FIFA recalled that Argentina is "the most successful nation in the history of the U-20 World Cup, having won the title six times (most recently in 2007)" and that it hosted the competition previously in 2001. National icons Diego Maradona (Japan 1979) and Lionel Messi (Netherlands 2005) are among those to have won the trophy.
Infantino trailed the news back in March, when he declared during a visit to CONMEBOL's headquarters in Paraguay that Argentina had a "very good chance" of hosting the tournament after it became the first country to present its bid meeting all the requirements.
FIFA withdrew hosting rights from Indonesia last month after protests against Israel's participation in the tournament.
Indonesia and Israel do not have formal diplomatic relations, and support for the Palestinian cause in the world's most populous Muslim-majority nation runs high.
Argentina put itself forward as an alternative host, and FIFA conducted an on-site inspection of facilities last week.
Earlier on Monday, AFA President Claudio ‘Chiqui’ Tapia hosted a press conference with Argentina’s Economy Minister Sergio Massa, at which the officials said that financing is available to stage the tournament.
President Alberto Fernández’s government is backing AFA’s bid to host the tournament, despite the crisis facing the nation. Argentina faces deep economic woes, with tens of billions in IMF debt and year-on-year inflation exceeding 100 percent.
"The Argentine Football Association has all the backing to carry out the organisation. We are ready for FIFA to announce that we will host the World Cup," declared Massa on Monday.
The tournament will run from May 20 to June 11 and La Albiceleste will face 23 other competitors for the title: United States, Guatemala, Honduras, Dominican Republic, Fiji, New Zealand, England, France, Israel, Italy, Slovakia, Brazil, Colombia, Uruguay, Ecuador, South Korea, Iraq, Japan, Uzbekistan, Gambia, Nigeria, Senegal and Tunisia.
Teams are divided into six groups of four, with the top two from each group and four best third-placed finishers qualifying for the knockouts.
FIFA said Thursday that the following stadiums will host games: not officially announced the host stadiums, but the initial submission proposed the following locations: Estadio Único Madre de Ciudad (Santiago del Estero), Estadio Único Diego Armando Maradona (La Plata), Estadio Malvinas Argentinas (Mendoza) and Estadio Bicentenario (San Juan).
AFA confirmed Monday that ex-Independiente coach Leandro Stillitano will join as an assistant to Javier Mascherano 's coaching staff for the U-20 World Cup.
Mascherano’s time in charge of the Albiceleste’s youth side has not gone well and Argentina slumped out of qualifying after a string of poor performances.
AFA is now looking to boost the ranks ahead of this year’s tournament, with Manchester United’s young forward Alejandro Garnacho the main target to reinforce the team.
A number of other players at top European sides are also set to be called up, such as Luka Romero (Lazio), Matías Soulé (Juventus), Thiago Geralnik (Villarreal), Franco Carboni (Catania) and the latter’s younger brother Valentín (Inter). Nicolas Paz (Real Madrid) Facundo Buonanotte (Brighton) and Máximo Perrone (Manchester City) should also get the nod.