Union sports minister Vijay Goel has set all six venues hosting matches in the FIFA U-17 World Cup a deadline of May 30 to put finishing touches. That includes Kochi where progress hitherto has been tardy.
Speaking to reporters here on Friday, Goel said the centre has earmarked Rs. 200 crore for India’s first football World Cup and if need be, the amount would be revised upwards.
Six venues --- Panaji, Kolkata, New Delhi, Guwahati, Navi Mumbai and Kochi --- will host the World Cup from October 6-28. Kolkata will host the final and Goel said he is satisfied with the progress here.
Some work needs to be done at training grounds at the Sports Authority of India’s (SAI) Eastern Centre regarding floodlights and the changing rooms but Goel said he is confident they would be done by the end of this month.
“I will monitor this from New Delhi and if required, visit the venues again,” said Goel. On a tour of the venues, Goel will visit Navi Mumbai next, he said.
‘Stadia will be full’
Asked how the organisers would manage to draw crowd as response to under-17 World Cup finals has often been lukewarm --- the average attendance in Chile, where the last edition was held, was 9279 and 6117 in the UAE in 2013 --- Goel said such would be the hype he was sure that stadia would overflow.
Schools would be roped in to get students to the grounds, said Goal, adding that it was done during last year’s inaugural BRICS tournament in Goa.
On Aizawl FC
Goel was asked about the uncertainty over India’s football league structure in 2017-18 with there being reports of the possibility of champions Aizawl FC being excluded. “I have not heard anything officially from Aizawl but have read reports about this. I will speak to the All India Football Federation (AIFF) about this and try to find a solution,” he said.