India to host 2017 Under-17 FIFA World Cup
In a landmark development for Indian football, the country was today awarded the right to host the 2017 Under-17 FIFA World Cup by the world governing body of the game in its executive committee meeting in Brazil.
India was chosen as the host country for the mega event by the FIFA executive committee in its meeting at Salvador de Bahia in Brazil. South Africa, Ireland and Uzbekistan were the other countries in the running for the right to host the tournament.
By virtue of being the host country, India will take part in the 24-nation tournament for the first time in its history.
"India confirmed by the FIFA ExCo as host of the FIFA U-17 World Cup 2017," FIFA said in a tweet after the meeting.
"Yes, India has won the right to host the 2017 Under-17 World Cup Football. It's official now," All India Football Federation General Secretary Kushal Das told PTI.
AIFF President Praful Patel described the development as historic.
"This is historic. This is what we have been waiting for. I need to thank the FIFA Executive Committee for keeping their trust on us and granting India the rights to host the 2017 U-17 World Cup," Patel said.
"I am also grateful to the Government of India for their support and giving us the necessary guarantees which made it possible for India to bid for the 2017 World Cup," he added.
This will the biggest ever football tournament India will be hosting and the first FIFA event in the country's history. India has hosted Asian Football Confederation's Youth Championships (Under-20) in 2006 and then the AFC Challenge Cup in 2008 but never has hosted any FIFA tournament.
United Arab Emirates hosted the tournament this year while Chile will be the host country for the 2015 edition.
India, whose submission of final bid documents were initially in doubt due to delay in getting government guarantees on various subjects, will be held in six venues which are to be selected from eight prospective cities -- New Delhi, Margao, Bangalore, Pune, Mumbai, Kolkata, Kochi and Guwahati.
From the very beginning, India's chances of winning the hosting right have been strong as it was FIFA which mooted the idea of the country hosting the mega event. The world body felt that if India can host the mega event, it could go a long way in lifting the profile of the game in the second most populous country in the world.
In a visit to the country, FIFA President Sepp Blatter and then his secretary Jerome Valcke, have supported India hosting the event, provided it builds the required infrastructure and facilities.
But, the journey has not been a smooth one as India's initial bid in January was rejected due to want of clear guarantees from the government on several subjects which the FIFA wants from a host country.
The bidding countries were required to submit written guarantees on tax exemptions for broadcasters and sponsors, foreign exchange remittances, security, transport and accommodation of players, and visa, among others.
The government supported the AIFF's bid from the very beginning but the sticking point had been the issue of the guarantees. India submitted the final bid document just a few days before the deadline of November 15.
While the expenses of hosting the event will be borne by FIFA and AIFF, the government has assured additional financial assistance.
"While the expenditure for upgradation of stadia (Rs 95 crore) will be provided as additional central assistance to the State Governments, a sum of Rs 25 crore is kept as a contingency to ensure smooth conduct of the tournament," the Sports Ministry had said.
"AIFF and FIFA have agreed to bear the entire expenditure of hosting the tournament. The amounts required are to be raised through sponsorships and other commercial agreements," it had said.