A 13 member strong FIFA delegation led by Tracy Lu and Marion Mayer-Vorfelder along with the Local Organising Committee ratified Kolkata as a venue for FIFA U-17 World Cup India 2017.
Culminating the trip which saw them visit all the 6 venues for the tournament – Kochi, Navi Mumbai, Goa, New Delhi, Guwahati and Kolkata between October 19-25, 2016, the delegation deemed progress to be satisfactory and seemed upbeat about India’s first ever FIFA tournament.
The delegation also revealed the dates for the tournament, which will be hosted by the ratified cities, between 6th and 28th October 2017.
Emphasis was placed on the state of the pitches and training sites to make sure they would be up to the mark when the tournament commences. Issues that were discussed with the local authorities included stadium infrastructure, competitions, marketing, media, television, tourism and public promotions and transport, among others.
On behalf of the LOC, Project Director Joy Bhattacharjya highlighted the historical occasion that this represents. “This World Cup has the potential of changing Indian football and we need everyone’s support to make it happen. The kind of work that the different State Governments have put so far has been great and now we are looking forward to keep working with them towards increasing the foothold of the Event on their States and across the country. Everyone really needs to go all out to take advantage of this once in a lifetime opportunity for Indian sports, and that will be our focus for the coming year”.
Talking about the results of the official inspection, Event Head for the tournament, Marion Mayer-Vorfelder said, “The state of West Bengal has shown tremendous enthusiasm in getting this venue ready and we are thoroughly impressed. The association of Football to the state of West Bengal goes back to the nineteenth century and we are really happy to announce it as a FIFA World Cup venue. From what my team saw, it was acknowledged that preparations for the marquee event have begun in full swing and the efforts put in by the State Governments and other stakeholders were welcomed and accepted.”
Also present at the press conference was Mr. Aroop Biswas, Minister – Sports, Government of West Bengal, Mr Laxmi Ratan Shukla, Minister of State for Sports, Government of West Bengal, Mr SA Baba – IAS & Principal Secretary – Sports for the Government of West Bengal and Mr Subrata Dutta – President of the IFA.
Elated with the announcement, Mr Biswas said “We are extremely happy that Kolkata has officially been ratified as a World Cup venue; we believe that this is one of the best stadiums in the country and the work that has been put in by the state government across the venue are in alignment with our vision to develop sports here. Come 2017 thus, we are excited to showcase the enthusiasm that the state has for the game for the world.”
Besides visiting the stadium, the delegation also assessed the condition of the training sites proposed for the venue, namely the VYBK Practice Grounds 1 and 2, and the SAI Netaji Subhas Eastern Regional Centre Pitch 1 and 2.
With regards to the overall preparedness of the venues, Javier Ceppi, Tournament Director of the LOC added, “We are very happy to complete the process of ratification of venues for the FIFA U-17 World Cup India 2017 with Kolkata. This goes to show that, a year from the Tournament, we are in a good place with the progress made. We now need to concentrate on all the details that will make this Tournament successful. We are extremely appreciative of the support that the Government of West Bengal has given us right from the start. The World Cup has taken its rightful place here as the single most important football event that this football crazy state has ever hosted.”
The next official FIFA inspection is scheduled early next year to ascertain the progress on the pending works and the operational planning for India 2017.