Goa provisional host for U-17 FIFA World Cup, AFC tourney

Panaji, June 29 (IANS) Goa has been chosen as one of the six provisional centres to host the U-17 World Cup in 2017 and will also host the U-16 Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Cup in 2016, a senior FIFA official said on Monday.

Javier Ceppi, world football’s governing body FIFA’s tournament director for the U-17 World Cup told a press conference here that the six provisional venues namely Kolkata, New Delhi, Kochi, Guwahati, Navi Mumbai and Goa would have to pull up their socks, as far as infrastructure and pitch conditions are concerned, in time for a critical FIFA inspection by September, 2016.

“The FIFA Under-17 World Cup will be the most important football tournament ever to have taken place in India. Make no question about that. It will have 209 countries on the qualifying stage, 24 countries on the final stage. India will get a direct entry. It is the first direct entry after 87 years of the event (for India),” Ceppi said, after handing over an agreement related to the tournament with the Goa government authorities.

Goa was the last of the six provisional venues to be finalised because of the delay caused in finalising the agreement, Ceppi said, adding that FIFA had also finalised Goa as a provisional venue for the 2016 U-16 AFC Cup.

While stating that FIFA would lend a helping hand in creating infrastructure and meeting the global football body’s requirements, Ceppi said that the six provisional centres, including Goa, would have to shape up for the U-17 World Cup and had time until September next year, when a FIFA committee would conduct final ratification and confirm the venues.

“Until then from now up to September 2016, Goa and other provisional venues, must comply with all the requirements,” Ceppi said.

Ceppi also said the FIFA tourney was a lot more than just a football spectacle.

The event is more than just having stadiums and what’s inside. It is an event which dynamises tourism, that dynamises the economy. It is an event which brings at least $10 million worth of new money into the economy for a big state. $260 million on a nationwide basis. It will be seen in 209 countries,” Ceppi said.

Ceppi also said that while each provisional centre would get at least around six out of the 52 matches which will be held during the U-17 tourney, every centre would have to go out of its way and excel if they wanted to host the tournament’s marquee matches and teams.

“We all know that there are certain teams and matches which are more attractive than the other ones. And we will try to be as fair as possible with all the venues in terms of preparation. Whatever venue is the most prepared, shows the most willingness, whatever venue sells the most tickets, will certainly be looked more favourably to get those marquee matches or marquee teams,” he said.

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