It's official — India will host the 2017 U-17 World Cup. The decision was announced on Thursday by Fifa president Sepp Blatter following the meeting of the Fifa executive committee at Salvador de Bahia, Brazil. India won the hosting rights ahead of Ireland, Uzbekistan, Azerbaijan and South Africa.
The tournament of 24 teams would be held at six venues. New Delhi, Goa, Bangalore, Pune, Mumbai, Kolkata, Kochi and Guwahati are among the prospective ones. "This is historic. This is what we have been waiting for. I need to thank the FIFA Executive Committee for keeping their trust on us," Paful Patel, president of the All India Football Federation (AIFF) said. "I am also grateful to the government for their support."
"This is a perfect opportunity to galvanise all stakeholders to work towards a common goal. I hope the preparation for the under-17 World Cup will help attract funds and participation from all the stakeholders. The hard work starts now," said Shaji Prabhakaran, Fifa development officer, South and Central Asia.
This will be the biggest ever football tournament in India and the first Fifa event here. India has hosted the Asian Football Confederation's (AFC) Youth Championships (U-20) in 2006 and then the AFC Challenge Cup in 2008. The date of the tournament will be decided later.
Since its inception in China in 1985, senior World Cup hosts Japan and South Korea and the United Arab Emirates are the only other Asian countries to have hosted the U-17 World Cup. Saudi Arabia are the only Asian country to have won it, back in 1989.