A change of place?

Edmonton's Commonwealth Stadium has seen its share of empty seats during the Under-20 World Cup....

Edmonton's Commonwealth Stadium has seen its share of empty seats during the Under-20 World Cup. (Sun Media/Darryl Dyck)

GEORGE GROSS -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:55 AM ET

And then there were four ...

Actually, after today's semi-final between Austria and the Czech Republic at Edmonton's Commonwealth Stadium and tomorrow's South American clash between Argentina and Chile at BMO Field in Toronto, there will only be two left.

The latter game is sold out and nearly 20,000 soccer fans will fight their way into the CNE facility, but such will not be the case tonight in Edmonton. Far from it.

In fact, I can't understand why the wise men of FIFA and the Canadian Soccer Association designated Edmonton as the site for one of the FIFA under-20 World Cup semi-finals.

It puzzles me why they didn't reschedule the semi-final to another city. In Edmonton they had what resembled a colour guard for the last quarter-final match, while Montreal and Ottawa attracted huge crowds for their under-20 matches.

Does it make any sense to have the important Czech-Austrian semi-final played before a small crowd? Don't these guys from FIFA in their black jackets use their heads when it comes to instant decision-making? Obviously not.

Perhaps, had FIFA president Joseph Blatter arrived in Toronto earlier and seen the pitiful quarter-final crowd in Edmonton, he may have moved the semi-final match between the bouncing Czechs and waltzing Austrians to the Olympic Stadium in Montreal, or to Ottawa where they, obviously, enjoy a good soccer contest.

I'm looking forward to the Toronto game tomorrow. It will be a classic confrontation of two stylish, tactically and systematically well-prepared South American teams, one of which -- Argentina -- has won the under-20 World Cup on five occasions and is again regarded in most circles as the favourite to capture it for the sixth time.

But the prognosticators would be making a fatal error by underestimating the technically well-prepared Chileans, who proved in the previous matches that they are a force to be reckoned with. The boys from Chile can strike when least expected. Case in point was their performance against Nigeria the other day when they hammered the Africans by scoring four goals in overtime.

Besides the anticipated small crowd in Edmonton, what concerns me even more is the officiating. It is unfortunate that gifted young men playing for their respected countries and shooting for the top prize, have to put up with officiating that has been well under par. Handing out yellow cards as if they were free vanilla ice-cream cones has done a disservice to the event.

It certainly disappointed people who know a little bit about football.

GROSSLY ABBREVIATED

Major League Soccer unveiled a Latin American Advisory Board comprised of several former star players. The Board will try to disseminate targeted information and act as a sounding board for the Latin American community ... Someone should alert the people of Milan, who are about to invite four Toronto "experts" to help them with winning the 2015 World Expo bid. What a joke! These experts might be able to show the people from Milan how NOT to bid for the World Expo.


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