Navi Mumbai’s DY Patil Stadium has been ratified as one of the venues for the U-17 World Cup, to be held in India next year.
A 23-member Fifa delegation, led by the global football body’s project lead for the World Cup Tracy Lu, inspected the facilities on Thursday before giving the venue its green signal.
DY Patil Stadium thus becomes the second stadium to get the green light from the Fifa delegation after Kochi’s Jawaharlal Nehru International Stadium. The Fifa delegation will also visit venues at Goa, New Delhi, Guwahati and Kolkata in the coming days.
Tournament Director Javier Ceppi said that there was only minor work left to be done at the Navi Mumbai stadium before branding the venue a “benchmark” for other stadiums.
“We were here in February last time and we are really pleased with the progress made here. The initiative taken by the owners of the facility is incredible and we are proud to be associated with them. They have invested a lot to modify the cricket facilities to suit the requirements for a Fifa U17 World Cup; also we are extremely happy with the exceptional work that has been put in here to get the training sites ready,” Lu said.
Ceppi went on to indicate that the venues with the best facilities could be given “more attractive matches”.
“We are yet to finalise which matches will be played where. The dates for the tournament are also to be decided,” he said.
His comments however raise the prospects of the DY Patil Stadium getting to host high-profile matches in the knockout stage.
It was learnt that Dr Vijay Patil, the owner of the stadium, has plans to increase the capacity of the stadium further by adding temporary stands near the dressing rooms. This move could boost the stadium’s capacity of 55,000 seats by a further 2,000 seats.
“You only get the opportunity to host the first ever World Cup in your country once. I remember back in November 2014, we (LOC) were struggling to find a venue in Mumbai to host the World Cup. That’s when we met Dr (Vijay) Patil and he understood the magnitude of this event and the fact that this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” Ceppi added.