Natural turf priority for U-17 World Cup, says AIFF president | sports | Hindustan Times
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Natural turf priority for U-17 World Cup, says AIFF president

sports Updated: Dec 10, 2013 00:40 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times
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Having won the right to host the Fifa under-17 World Cup in 2017 – the first time the country has been selected to host a football tournament of such magnitude – India now face the tough challenge of executing it.

First up, of course, is the question of the venues. While six venues will be ultimately shortlisted to host the biennial event, eight have been included in a list that All India Football Federation (AIFF) president Praful Patel termed as "tentative" at a media conference here on Monday.

"Those who control the stadiums will have to ensure that they are brought up to Fifa's standards," he said, meaning state governments would have to be involved.

A total of Rs 95 crore (with another Rs 25 crore as contingency) has been allotted by the centre for upgrading stadiums as per the world governing body's exhaustive list of guidelines. With Patel categorically stating that "stadiums with natural turf are to be given priority over those with artificial turfs", it will have to seen whether venues synonymous with football lose out.

Such as Kolkata's Salt Lake Stadium about which Patel declined to comment since it is "under the West Bengal state government", before adding that "artificial turf is not a negative, but not a preferred positive."

Among the eight venues listed Mumbai and Bangalore too have artificial turf. Kolkata though has a two-star rating from Fifa meaning it can hold senior international matches.

Club World Cup bid
In an effort to expedite the upgrading process, India will bid for the Club World Cup in 2015 and 2016. "We have already sent the official communication to Fifa," said Patel. "The final decision will only be taken in mid-2014, so we need to be prepared."