The inspection is half done, but whether some football stadiums across India will get to host Olympic and World Cup qualifiers will be known only after FIFA inspector Timmy Setiawan submits his report to the sport's governing body.
On a 10-day visit to inspect venues across the country, Setiawan, who was in the Capital on Thursday, was not pleased as a punch, but he was not too disappointed either after touring the Ambedkar Stadium. However, the question on whether the stadium holds a realistic chance of getting a match was left unanswered.
At present, the only FIFA-approved stadium in India is the Nehru Stadium in Chennai.
Accompanied by officials from the Delhi Soccer Association (DSA), Setiawan praised the structure of the stadium and also seemed satisfied with the turf. Absence of a tunnel for the players and approach to the ground from the players' dressing room, however, left him disappointed.
“FIFA is very serious about security. The players need to be protected from hooligans and the stadium should also ensure that the crowd is safe,” Setiawan said.
“He was not happy with the huge pillars in the pavilion since they make it difficult for the crowd to watch the proceedings,” said DSA secretary N.K. Bhatia. “He also gave a lot of importance to medical facilities and security arrangements as they are mandatory for international matches,” he added.
At first, Setiawan came up with a “no comments” but opened up later. “I can't comment on the stadiums as I have to submit my report to FIFA.”
Setiawan has already inspected Kolkata's Yuba Bharati Krirangan and the Indira Gandhi Stadium in Guwahati. When asked about the venues, the Indonesian said, “The stadium in Kolkata is huge but the seats were dirty. I felt they (Kolkata and Guwahati) are underused.”
Delhi done, Setiawan will leave for Bangalore on Friday and then to Kochi followed by Hyderabad, his last stop.