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Why India will not get to see FIFA U-17 World Cup’s biggest star

The U-17 World Cup in India is not in the FIFA calendar for 2017, hence like with the Olympics, it is not mandatory for clubs to release players. Brazil’s Vinicius Junior, who has been signed by Real Madrid, will miss the event

fifa u17 world cup 2017 Updated: Oct 01, 2017 11:48 IST
Dhiman Sarkar
Dhiman Sarkar
Hindustan Times, Kolkata
FIFA U-17 World Cup,Vinicius Junior,Real Madrid CF
Vinicius Junior, who has been signed by Real Madrid, will not be part of Brazil squad for the FIFA U-17 World Cup.(Getty Images)

For tournaments not in the Fifa calendar, clubs don’t face sanctions for not releasing players. So, should they wish, clubs can give a wide berth to all international competitions or matches not held on what are also referred to as ‘Fifa dates’.

That is why Flamengo are within their rights to prevent Vinicius Jr from travelling to India for the under-17 World Cup that begins on Friday. If that means the tournament won’t have its biggest star, well, that is certainly not Flamengo’s problem. They are currently seventh in the Brazilian league, 15 points behind leaders Corinthians. That’s not exactly being in seventh heaven for the 121-year-old club that has been five-time league champions and winners of the 1981 Intercontinental Cup, beating Liverpool, when Zico shone brightest in their black-and-scarlet colours.

READ | FIFA U-17 World Cup: Vinicius Junior pull-out blow for Brazil’s title hopes

ESPN have quoted Flamengo coach Reinaldo Rueda as saying that since Vinicius Jr wasn’t part of the preparation for the World Cup and because the under-17 national team has good players, the forward has been asked to not travel keeping in mind his future.

“We want the best for him,” Rueda has said after Flamengo lost to Cruzeiro in the Copa do Brasil final on September 28.

Vinicius Jr, in whom Real Madrid have already invested 45 million euros (approximately Rs 347 crore) but have allowed him to stay on loan in Brazil, was scheduled to travel to Mumbai after the final.

READ | FIFA U-17 World Cup’s biggest star Vinicius Jr. to miss event, jolt for Brazil

The current six-year Fifa International Match Calendar (2013-18) lists two dates for internationals next month and doesn’t mention the under-17 World Cup which will be held at six venues in India from October 6-28. Because there is an agreement between Fifa with its six continental federations, the European Club Association and the players’ body FifPro, clubs have to release players for matches on dates mentioned in the calendar.

Including qualifying competitions all tournaments such as the men’s World Cup, the Asian Cup and other continental championships involving the senior national teams are played on dates earmarked in the Fifa calendar.

READ | FIFA U-17 World Cup: Indian footballers take inspiration from humble beginnings

So, just as the Fifa calendar in 2016 didn’t include the Olympics, which was an under-23 competition, the one for this year makes no mention of either the under-17 or under-20 World Cup (held between May 20 and June 11 in South Korea).

That is why Arsenal could stop Alex Iwobi from playing for Nigeria in the 2016 Olympics and Manchester United get Marcus Rashford to skip the Euro U-21s last summer. That is also why Barcelona could ask Neymar to choose between the Copa America Centenario and the Olympics.

First Published: Oct 01, 2017 09:10 IST