FIFA team wants improvements in U-17 World Cup venues

New Delhi, Feb 20 (IANS) The FIFA inspection team on Saturday advocated major renovations to the six stadia around the country which are scheduled to host the U-17 World Cup next year.

The team, led by FIFA head of events Jaime Yarza, is satisfied with the overall standards at the tournament venues, but cautioned that state and central governments, and the All India Football Federation (AIFF) will have to start construction work in the stadia immediately if they are to meet international standards within the October deadline.

The inspection tour, which had started in Kochi on February 15, came to an end at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium here on Saturday.

“I must say that the FIFA delegation is satisfied with the planning of the U-17 FIFA World Cup. The AIFF, the local organising committee and governments have done a very good job as far as planning is concerned. We are 80 percent satisfied with the planning of the tournament,” Yarza told the media.

“But we need amendments in the ground plan and all the six stadiums need major renovations. October is the deadline for the stadiums to comply with standards required for hosting a World Cup match. The state and central governments and local organising committee will need to start the construction work immediately. We still have time but October is not far away and all the stakeholders will really need to start work. Now is the time to start working on the implementation of the plans,” he added.

Yarza refused to divulge too many details about the renovations needed, but pointed out that safety of spectators and the quality of dressing rooms are major concerns.

“I cannot tell all these before I submit the report to the local organising committee in a few days. But the dressing rooms in all the stadiums are not enough and they are small in size also. Each stadium must have four dressing rooms and they need to construct new dressing rooms,” he said.

“We have not come with a security expert. A security inspection will be done later. But we have to look into the safety and evacuation of fans, like how long will it take for the fans to be evacuated from the main gate. As of now we don’t see any major issues but there are work to be done in this aspect also,” he stated.

The FIFA team have inspected stadia in Kochi, Goa, Mumbai, Kolkata and Guwahati before coming to the capital. Yarza said that the D Y Patil Stadium in Mumbai is the best among the venues.

“The D Y Patil Stadium in Mumbai has high quality and the other five can also become fantastic stadiums to host World Cup matches if they implement the changes required,” he said.

Talking about the JLN Stadium, Yarza said, “It is a very good building but just like other stadiums it also needs changes.”

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