FC Barcelona and Spain legend Carles Puyol handed over the first ticket of the upcoming FIFA U-17 World Cup in India, to Gouri Bhaduri, the senior-most surviving relative of Mohun Bagan’s 1911 IFA Shield-winning captain Shibdas Bhaduri, at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium here on Monday.
The FIFA U-17 World Cup will be held from October 6-28.
The ceremonial kick-off of the ticket programme took place in the presence of union sports minister Vijay Goel, BJP MP Babul Supriyo, who is also the vice-president of the Local Organising Committee (LOC), and Javier Ceppi, Tournament Director of the LOC.
Speaking at the event, Puyol said, “I am extremely happy to be here in India. It’s my first time here; it’s a great occasion to be here. I also hope to be here in October when the FIFA U-17 World Cup happens.”
The World Cup-winning defender also had words of advice for a group of kids present at the event.
“Enjoy, listen to your teachers, listen to your coaches. This sport has given me everything, and that’s because I have enjoyed (playing it). But don’t forget to study. Keep enjoying football. It’s a wonderful sport,” he said.
The former Barcelona centre-back then proceeded to officiate a game between two groups of children, with Goel and Supriyo leading the opposing teams.
“Preparations will be done on time”
Vijay Goel, meanwhile, called upon Indian football fans to come out in large numbers for the main event in October.
“The quality of the teams who have qualified for the tournament is amazing. Brazil will be leading the South American challenge with players like Vinicius Junior, who is attracting interest from Real Madrid and other popular clubs from around the world,” he said.
“You can buy a ticket for Rs 50, so you have to come and support this tournament in large numbers,” Goel added.
The union minister also expressed satisfaction over the pace of preparations for the U-17 World Cup.
“I have already visited Kochi and Kolkata. I will be leaving for Mumbai tomorrow to oversee preparations. I will soon be going to Goa and Guwahati,” he told reporters.
“It will be done on time. I have also spoken to the Chief Minister (of Kerala) over this matter,” Goel later told Hindustan Times, when asked about preparations in Kochi, which had earlier drawn the ire of FIFA for the slow pace of work.
Supriyo, on the other hand, joined Goel in urging football fans to fill the stands during the tournament. “I am sure you all will flock the U-17 World Cup event,” he said.
The ticket sales for the tournament will commence from 19:11 hours on May 16, in honour of Mohun Bagan’s historic IFA Shield win in 1911.