India to host Under-17 football World Cup in 2017
FIFA officially announced today that India have been handed the hosting rights for the 2017 U-17 World Cup.
"India confirmed by the FIFA #ExCo as host of the FIFA U-17 World Cup 2017," the world governing body's official Twitter handle announced.
India was among four countries that tabled an official bid for to host the tournament along with South Africa, Uzbekistan and Azerbaijan. Republic of Ireland had showed an interest but never made a bid for the same, as told to Goal by a representative from the Irish FA.
However, India edged past the rest, to win the right to host the first major tournament on the nation's soil.
Being the hosts, India will automatically qualify as one of the participating nation in the tournament, and after their unfortunate absence in 1950 FIFA World Cup even after been invited, this will be their first appearance in a FIFA World Cup of any kind.
This will the biggest ever football tournament India will be hosting and the first FIFA event in the country's history. India has hosted Asian Football Co federation's Youth Championships (Under-20) in 2006 and then the AFC Challenge Cup in 2008 but never any FIFA tournament.
The date of the tournament will be decided later.
India, whose submission of final bid documents were initially in doubt due to delay in getting government guarantees on various subjects, will need six to eight host cities for the mega event. New Delhi, Kolkata, Mumbai, Chennai, Guwahati, Margao, Kochi and Bangalore could be in the running the host the matches.
"We are extremely excited about the development and would thank our president, Mr.Praful Patel for his contribution," said Kushal Das, the general secretary of the All India Football Federation (AIFF), said.
"This is a great development and a big day for Indian football as they get to host one of the biggest events in football," said Dr.Shaji Prabhakaran, FIFA's development officer for South and Central Asia.
India were deemed hot favourites with Sepp Blatter, the FIFA president also giving special attention to the bid.
"India has a very good chance as of now to host the tournament as it will give them an entry into the elite league and also will allow its U-17 team to play as a host nation," he told the media during his visit in Delhi last year.
From the very beginning, India's chances of winning the hosting right have been strong as it was FIFA which mooted the idea of the country hosting the mega event. The world body felt that if India can host the mega event, it could go a long way in lifting the profile of the game in the second most populous country in the world.
In a visit to the country, FIFA President Sepp Blatter and then his secretary Jerome Valcke, have supported India hosting the event, provided it builds the required infrastructure and facilities.
While the expenses of hosting the event will be borne by FIFA and AIFF, the government has assured additional financial assistance.
"While the expenditure for upgradation of stadia (Rs 95 crore) will be provided as additional central assistance to the State Governments, a sum of Rs 25 crore is kept as a contingency to ensure smooth conduct of the tournament," the Sports Ministry had said. "AIFF and FIFA have agreed to bear the entire expenditure of hosting the tournament. The amounts required are to be raised through sponsorships and other commercial agreements," it said.
United Arab Emirates hosted the tournament this year while Chile will be the host country for the 2015 edition.