FIFA U-17 World Cup: Kochi matches under doubt, state association look for solution
The Greater Cochin Development Authority (GCDA), which owns the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Kochi, has let out 236 shop rooms in the stadium complex. FIFA had mentioned it wanted the shops to be shut well ahead of the October 6 – 28 Fifa U-17 World Cup.football Updated: Sep 15, 2017 20:50 IST
The FIFA U-17 World Cup matches in Kochi are in jeopardy after shop-owners at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium (JLN Stadium) complex, the venue for matches, refused to close down from September 15 till end of October, despite order from the Greater Cochin Development Authority (GCDA).
The GCDA, which owns the JLN Stadium, has let out 236 out of the 280 shop rooms in the stadium complex. FIFA had categorically mentioned it wanted the shops to be shut well ahead of the October 6 – 28 football tournament.
The shop owners have now approached the Kerala High Court, which has asked GCDA for an explanation regarding closing of the shops. A decision on the matter is expected to come by Saturday.
An official associated with the FIFA Local Organising Committee (LOC) told Hindustan Times that closing down of the shops was a primary requirement. “If the shops are not closed down, the matches in Kochi will be in jeopardy,” the official said.
KMI Mather, Kerala Football Association president, however, said there will be no problem in hosting the matches. “There is absolutely no problem. We will be meeting the concerned people tomorrow. We are extremely hopeful of getting a positive response. There will be no issue in hosting matches,” he told HT.
While shifting of the matches will be a logistical nightmare for the organisers, FIFA has officially restrained from making any comments on the issue.
“We have a contract with GCDA regulating the use of the JLN Stadium for the FIFA U-17 World Cup tournament and we have been given assurances by the State Government of Kerala that all contractual commitments and obligations will be respected,” the FIFA LOC said in an official statement.
“We are aware that currently there are legal proceedings ongoing in the High Court of Kerala between the Greater Cochin Development Authority (GCDA) and various individuals engaged in running commercial activities in the premises of the Jawaharlal Nehru International Stadium (JNI Stadium) in Kochi. Since the matter is currently the subject of a litigation under review by the Hon’ble High Court of Kerala, we believe it is not prudent to make any particular comments about these proceedings.”
Kochi is scheduled to host matches of Group D which includes Brazil, Spain, Niger and North Korea. It will also hold second-round matches as well as a quarterfinal.