AIFF vows to make FIFA U-17 World Cup a ‘grand success’



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FIFA U-17 World Cup 2017

Having won the hosting rights for the FIFA U-17 World Cup 2017, India now has three years to prepare for the mega event. The All India Football Federation (AIFF) has already promised to make the event a ‘grand success’.

Following the inauguration of a new government in India in May, an AIFF team led by its general secretary Kushal Das met the new Sports Minister Sarbananda Sonowal.

“We briefed the minister about the U-17 World Cup and he seemed very enthusiastic about it. He has assured full cooperation from the Government in making the mega event a grand success. A more detailed presentation on the U-17 World Cup and AIFF’s football plan in general will be given to the minister soon,” Das told the Indian media.

India won the bid to host the U-17 World Cup, beating Ireland, South Africa, Uzbekistan and Azerbaijan in the process, as announced in the executive committee meeting in December 2013.

 

FIFA earmarks $38 million

However, it’s not just the AIFF but the sport’s governing body FIFA is also doing its bit to ensure a smooth conduct of the Under-17 World Cup, earmarking around $38 million for the marquee event to be hosted by the ‘sleeping giant’ in 2017.

A top AIFF official, who had attended the FIFA Congress in Sao Paulo barely a couple of days ahead of the start of the ongoing World Cup, was quoted by the media this month (June 2014) saying that president Sepp Blatter is serious about helping India in its endeavour to host a successful event three years from now.

“For the U-17 World Cup in 2017, FIFA officials have told us that they have kept around $38 million for organisational purpose only,” AIFF vice-president Subhas Chopra later confirmed to the Indian media.

 

Probable venues

A FIFA team visited the eight probable venues shortlisted by the AIFF in February but a final decision is yet to be taken. The team led by Inaki Alvarez, FIFA’s Deputy Director and Head of Event Management Competitions Division, said there was an urgent need to refurbish stadia around the country in preparation for the FIFA U-17 World Cup 2017.

The venues that the team visited are: Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium and Ambedkar Stadium in New Delhi; Salt Lake Stadium in Kolkata; DY Patil Stadium in Navi Mumbai; Balewadi Stadium in Pune; Karnataka State Football Association Stadium in Bangalore; Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium at Margao; besides stadiums in Kochi and Guwahati.

FIFA will eventually have to choose six host cities from a shortlist of eight. The FIFA made it quite evident with their reactions that India has the potential to host a ‘tremendous World Cup’.

“What we have seen so far is very encouraging. I know three-and-half years is a long time (reference to the start of the tournament) but still there needs to be urgency in bringing the stadia up to the FIFA regulation,” Alvarez was quoted as saying in media reports.

“It is good to see that there is commitment and passion for football. The atmosphere is good in India and I hope this tournament leaves a legacy for Indian footballers,” he said.

 

Bid for Club World Cups

Meanwhile, as a preparation for the mega event in 2017, India is planning to host back-to-back FIFA Club World Cups. The country is bidding to host the Club World Cup in 2015 and 2016.

The AIFF is seeking $25 million is sponsorship as part of its bid. The deadline to submit a bid is August 25. FIFA’s executive committee will select a host in September.

“It is a tough challenge indeed for the AIFF to raise such a huge amount,” AIFF secretary general Kushal Das was quoted saying in the Indian media. “But we are confident that we would get the required guarantees for FIFA.”
Das said the organisation will have to sell six local sponsorships which do not conflict with existing FIFA sponsors.

FIFA has also asked that the 33 member associations making up the AIFF amend their constitutions to match its own. Das said this would be done in a phased manner.

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