On 6th October, a sporting extravaganza in the form of the Under-17 FIFA World Cup kicked off in India. This was the first time India was hosting a FIFA event and the football fraternity as a result was closely observing the nation and its capacity to host such global tournaments.
In a previous report, I had written how this tournament was a chance for both India and its U-17 team to get on the global football map. Our football team didn’t disappoint in this regard and even though it exited in the group stages, it wasn’t before players like Dheeraj Singh Moirangthem received aplomb for their performance.
Now even the event organisers have been showered with praise by none other than top FIFA officials for delivering a very successful World Cup. As per reports, Jaime Yarza the FIFA Head of Competitions has stated that the infrastructure provided was world class and the teams were happy with the organisation.
As per Yazara, the teams did not expect such good quality training pitches and they were satisfied with regards to accommodation, food and transportation. He also commended the fact that this tournament is on route to becoming the most attended U-17 World Cup.
Already a total of 12,24,027 spectators have attended the matches which is a mere 6949 less than the current record. With the 3rd place match and final still to go, India is comfortably expected to break the record, currently held by China. The high interest of spectators was visible recently when Kolkata’s salt lake stadium hosted a record 66,613 fans during the Brazil vs Germany quarterfinal.
Yazara also claimed that all the 6 venues which hosted the tournament were not just of U-17 world cup level, but were also good enough for senior football tournaments and India can host bigger FIFA events in the future. Yazara also praised the Indian football team who he claims, played at high speed and weren’t afraid of facing very good teams.
Praise was also delivered by the current FIFA president Giani Infantino, who declared that “India is a football country now”.
It remains to be seen if the praise results into a future opportunity for India. All India Football Federation (AIFF) President Praful Patel has already indicated that he will try and convince the football governing body to let India host the Under-20 World Cup in 2019, despite the fact that the last U-20 World Cup was also hosted in Asia (South Korea).
It also remains to be seen how much of an effort is made to maintain the newly renovated football infrastructure and whether it is made accessible to current and future footbal players One also hopes that the current momentum which has been built up with regards to football, continues to thrive and India well and truly arrives on the global footballing scene.