Kolkata may host U-17 football World Cup final: FIFA
Kolkata: The rights to host the final of the U-17 World Cup in 2017 may be awarded to Kolkata, a delegation of the world football's governing body FIFA said here on Thursday.
India will host the 17th edition of the U-17 World Cup scheduled to be kick off in September-October 2017.
A 10-member Federation Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) team, led by the tournament's director Javier Ceppi, is currently in India inspecting the six venues identified to host the World Cup matches.
The Salt Lake Stadium in Kolkata is one of the six venues provisionally selected for the Cup matches, others being Goa, Kochi, Mumbai, Guwahati and New Delhi.
Salt Lake Stadium is India's best known football stadium, being the home ground of city giants Mohun Bagan and East Bengal. The decision on the final match will be taken in October.
"There is a possibility that the final may happen here. But we are not sure yet. There are other cities too where it can take place like the big cities Delhi, Mumbai, Kochi," Ceppi said on Thursday.
"We will weigh the passions of these cities and there are a lot of other things we need to see and then we will decide. As you know, the final will be the most important match in the history of Indian football."
"This is a stadium where the final can be played, but the decision will come in October," FIFA's head of events Jaime Yarza said.
The FIFA team was seemingly quite pleased with how work was progressing at the venue. Yarza said he hoped when the team would return for the second-round inspection in October, the stadium would be ready.
"We have suggested some improvements, amendments that need to be done with the planning but they are small. The work done till now is very good and correct," Yarza elaborated.
"If the construction work goes as per plan, we will be looking forward to confirming Kolkata as the final venue. We will be coming here for another inspection in October. But for now we are satisfied."
"The Kolkata stadium is an historic stadium, which has seen some great matches like the Nehru Cup in the past where we have had Argentina playing. We have also had Argentina play against Venezuela in a friendly match here so it is a historic stadium."
"We are working together with the state to make it top stadium in India for the future. Looking forward to October now, hoping that this will be the best stadium for the U-17 world Cup," Yarza added.
With bucket seats replacing the concrete slabs in parts of the venue, the capacity is set to decrease but then again, Ceppi said that won't be much of a problem.
"Earlier there used to be around 1,20,000 people coming in. But now the capacity will come down to 85,000. But then also it is huge. We have to ensure spectator comfort during the event so the new seats are being installed," he said.
When asked about the draw for the competition, Yarza said: "We do not know what the date is, but it will be held in June 2017."
The All India Football Federation (AIFF) vice-president Subrata Dutta praised the development work adding they are now keen on hosting the U-20 World Cup.
"Even FIFA wants this stadium to be a legacy. We are keen on improving in the infrastructure more so later we can have the U-20 World Cup. And if some day we can have the event for the senior team, I hope the stadium will be good enough," he said.
The state sports minister in charge Aroop Biswas said: "Money is not the criteria for us. We are going to spend whatever it takes so that the stadium can be world class. We are following the prescription which FIFA has given us."