It’s a proud moment for Kerala rather India as Kochi will be the first venue to host FIFA under 17 World Cup. On Wednesday, FIFA, the sport’s world body confirmed this at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium.
The tournament director Javier Ceppi said, “We are pleased to announce that Kochi has been ratified as a venue for the FIFA under-17 World Cup.” He congratulated the Kerala government and K.M.I. Mather, the Football Association president of Kerala for their commendable work.
Kochi would be the first city in the country to host under-17 FIFA World Cup. Next year’s World Cup will be held in six different cities throughout the country. Each cities will host group comprising league matches. Kochi is favourite among some other prominent venues to host knock out matches too.
Yesterday before the official announcement, a 23 members team, half of them from FIFA led by Project Leader Tracy Lu inspected the championship’s main venue, Nehru Stadium and other four training grounds.
Ceppi stated that many things are there which need to be completed and they will often monitor the place. “We will come at least once every three weeks, we will keep working quite closely with the Government of Kerala, and all the stakeholders here to make sure that all the readiness is there for the World Cup.”
According to him, the most important thing is to install nearly 33,000 seat at the main venue where the capacity has been limited to 55,000 for the World Cup. Except that many things need to do at competition areas, VIP areas, general public areas, media areas and 4 training grounds.
This is also one of the venues of ongoing ISL matches, that is why some of the work at the stadium could not be completed. The Kerala Government’s sports secretary A.P.M. Mohammed Hanish said that by November 15 the other works are expected to start and by the end of February, next year the works at all four training sites and the match venue will be completed.
The deadline will be the end of the February, next year to complete all the infrastructure work. After that a FIFA delegation will come for a final inspection to ensure Kochi is ready to host.
The other five cities where the matches will be held are Kolkata, Navi Mumbai, Delhi, Guwahati and Margao. The tournament will start from September next year.
Earlier, India has staged many big events like Asia Cup, Commonwealth Games, cricket World Cup but Kerala never got the opportunity to be a part of it. This time the under-17 FIFA World Cup would give the state a bigger opportunity to prove its own capability. And the question whether they will successful or not to host a bigger sports event like this, that only time would say.