‘The City of joy’ will host the the final of FIFA U-17 World Cup
Saltlake Stadium, one of the largest stadiums in the world gets the honour of hosting future stars.
The FIFA delegation concluded their India visit today at Kolkata after inspecting the Saltlake Stadium, one of the 6 venues for the FIFA U-17 World Cup to be held from 6th-28th October in India.
After the inspection of the six venues, the football world was waiting for the big declaration-the venue for the finals. The FIFA officials did not surprise anyone as they gave the Saltlake Stadium(also known as Vivekananda Yuva Bharti Krirangan), the biggest stadium in the country the honour to host the ‘Grand Finale’. For Kolkata, ‘The Mecca of Indian football’ it was a fitting tribute from FIFA.
Sources suggested that Kolkata and Navi Mumbai were in the race but FIFA ultimately gave a stamp on the ‘City of Joy’. Navi Mumbai and Guwahati have been rewarded with the two semi-finals.
Jaime Yarza, the FIFA Head of Events while being asked about the selection of Kolkata said,
“The team is very pleased with the improvements that have been made in the last few months.If it goes on like this, this stadium will fulfil all the highest standards.”
The Saltlake Stadium was established back in 1984. Since then it has seen many big teams and big players on exhibition on its lush green.
The venue holds the record of an attendance of 131,000 in a Kolkata Derby between East Bengal and Mohun Bagan back in 1997, which still is the highest gathering in any sporting event in the country. But this is surely the biggest of them all, a gorgeous feather on its illustrious crown.
Yarza has expressed his views on the other five venues also. Here is some of the excerpts:
●GUWAHATI: “This is a very good stadium. From one year ago it has changed a lot. The support of the State Government is magnificent. They are doing everything to have a fantastic World Cup stadium. It is also a legacy for the future. The state Govt. has made arrangements to facilitate transportation of families.”
●KOCHI: “They need to buck up to comply with requirements……The situation is not as bad as it was a year before. But we are concerned. The renovation needs to take a completely diIerent rhythm. There might be a Plan B applied in the future but right now we are counting with Kochi as one of the venues of the World Cup.”
(The FIFA delegation is most dissatisfied with this venue and has also given a deadline of 15th May)
●NEW DELHI: “This (Pollution) has been taken into account. We are hoping that Delhi will respond to the World Cup and families and kids will come to watch matches. The stadium in Delhi has improved. We are happy things are changing. At the same time, the pace needs to improve. The stadium needs to look as it looked when it was built. Need to increase the rhythm and keep on working. We are assured that we can do it with the support of the state.”
(Delhi is barred from hosting matches after 16th October by orders of Court for air-pollution and thus could not host big matches)
●NAVI MUMBAI: “It was a very good stadium. I said it one year ago and it’s even better stadium today. The requirements we have had they are being fulfilled. We have absolutely no concern.”
(This Stadium was termed as the ‘Benchmark’ for other stadiums by Yarza.)
●GOA: “It had some infrastructural drawbacks when we first visited. But the holes have been filled and the local Government also took initiative in this regard. Although it has some works remaining but we are hopeful of this venue. The football culture at Goa has only compounded our belief.”
FIFA U-17 World Cup will be a 24 team affair who will be divided into 6 Groups (A-F). The draw will take place on 7th July at Mumbai.
But FIFA has already allocated matches to the respective stadiums. Here is the list of matches the venues will host:
● Navi Mumbai: Group A matches, 1 Round of 16 matches, 1 Semi-final.
● Delhi: Group B matches, 2 Round of 16 matches.
● Goa: Group C matches, 2 Round of 16 matches, 1 Quarter-Final
● Kochi: Group D matches, 1 Round of 16 matches, 1 Quarter-Final
● Guwahati: Group E matches, 1 Round of 16 matches, 1 Quarter-Final, 1 Semi-final
● Kolkata: Group F matches, 1 Round of 16 matches, 1 Quarter-final, The Final
(Each venue have to host a minimum of 8 matches.
Opening match on 6th October at DY Patil Stadium, Navi Mumbai)
Out of total 24 teams, 10 teams have qualified, 13 is yet to qualify while India will be the automatic participants being hosts.
The 10 teams who have qualified are as follows:
• Iran, Iraq, Japan, Korea DPR (AFC)
• Brazil, Chile, Paraguay, Columbia (CONMEBOL)
• New Zealand, New Caledonia (OFC)
The teams from Europe(UEFA), North and Central America (CONCACAF) and Africa(CAF) are yet to qualify.
The catchline for this World Cup is ‘Football takes over’. Project Director of LOC (Local Organizing Committee) Joy Bhattacharya commented on this,”Our slogan is thoughtful. We have to leave something behind, it’s not just about the World Cup from October 6-28.”
Talking about the ‘Mission XI million’ project he said,”It’s not just about making them play but convincing them to take up football. We have already touched 1.5 Million children and half a million is from Bhaichung Bhuttia Academy. We need to make a movement. This is the best time ever for Indian football and it builds a solid foundation.”
Javier Ceppi, the Tournament Director on this whole issue said,”It’s a happy day for me because all the questions about the match schedule will stop being asked. We can finally focus on other things. It has been an extremely complicated process to finalise the schedule to have a World Cup in India-different festivities, weather patterns, different timelines”
Jaime Yarza said,”We know October is a month of the festival in India and we want this to be a festival of football.”
He concluded by saying,”Well it’s true it is one of the most challenging World Cups we have ever done. That’s why the satisfaction for this will be higher when this is over.These are one of the most tiring visits we have ever done. We believe this is a revolution happening here. This is not just a World Cup, this is the development of football for almost 500 million kids in India. We really hope that when the final is played, no matter who wins, football will be the winner.”
These are one of the most tiring visits we have ever done. We believe this is a revolution happening here. This is not just a World Cup, this is the development of football for almost 500 million kids in India. We really hope that when the final is played, no matter who wins, football will be the winner.”