India would host the FIFA Under-17 World Cup in six different venues, four of which have been given provisional approval, in September-October 2017, it was announced by the tournament organising committee head on Friday.
Announcing the window for the 24-team championship, which includes India as hosts, Tournament Director Javier Cepii said at a media conference here that the D Y Patil Sports Academy in Navi Mumbai is among the four centres, which has been given provisional approval to host matches in the 23-day event.
"We had a meeting of the local organising committee last week. D Y Patil Sports Academy in Navi Mumbai is one of the four venues which we have shortlisted and given provisional approval subject to ratification in September 2016 on the basis of compliance with FIFA guidelines," said Chilean Cepii.
He said that apart from D Y Patil Stadium, provisional approval has been granted to three other venues - Guwahati, Kolkata and Kochi- while five other centres have been shortlisted to finalise the remaining two venues. They are Goa, Chennai, Delhi, Bengaluru and Pune and, two from among this five-strong list, would be given provisional approval in the near future.
Cepii also laid to rest speculations that the U-17 World Cup, the first ever global football tournament in which India will participate by virtue of hosting it, will not be shifted to accommodate the All India Football Federation's new-found popular baby - Indian Super League.
"The European qualification stage of the U-17 World Cup ends in May and there should be at least a three-month gap before the conduct of the tournament. It cannot begin before September," said the tournament director. Apart from India, Asia would have four other entries while the rest of the field would be made up of six countries from Europe, four from North America-Caribbean area, four from South America, four from Africa and one from Oceania, according to Cepii.
"We have shortlisted D Y Patil Sports Academy and now it's up to you to fulfil the compliance criteria for final ratification," he said in the presence of Vijay Patil, who heads the academy. Cepii further said that the September-October window for the tournament has been chosen in consultation with AIFF.
"We know ISL and I-League are also important tournaments. But the Under 17 World Cup is the first such tournament which will be hosted by India in 87 years since the first World Cup was held. The window has been chosen in consultation and with the co-operation of AIFF," he said.
There would be six practice venues near the D Y Patil Sports Academy ground and all have been identified and includes the Navi Mumbai Sports Association ground at Vashi, it was announced.
Patil thanked the NMSA and the Navi Mumbai Municipal Corporation for their co-operation in readying the required practice grounds. "We are delighted to be chosen as one of the venues for the Under-17 World Cup and express our gratitude to FIFA, AIFF (All India Football Federation) and (state body) WIFA (Western India Football Association)," said Patil.
"We conducted ISL last year with great success. Stadiums of future need to be multi-functional ones. All sports need to be encouraged. Personally, I am a great fan of football from my school days," said Patil, who is also the vice president of the Mumbai Cricket Association.
About the compliance part, Cepii said the FIFA manual related to this is 80-page thick and "we have to look into 19-20 important areas." "A FIFA inspection team would visit India in September 2016 to ratify the venues (after looking into the compliance part)," he added.