Government clears India's U-17 WC bid

 The government on Thursday gave its backing to the All India Football Federation’s bid to host the 2017 FIFA Under-17 World Cup.

“The Union Cabinet today gave its approval to the proposal for submitting guarantees sought by the All India Football Federation (AIFF) from the Government of India for their bid to host the FIFA under-17 World Cup in 2017 in India,” a sports ministry statement said.

If AIFF succeeds in its bid, India would for the first time host the event involving 24 best youth teams of the world, with the matches expected to be held in Mumbai, New Delhi, Kolkata, Goa, Bangalore and Kerala.

“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. 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,” the ministry statement said.

Uncertainty had loomed large over India’s bid as FIFA needed guarantees on tax exemption, security, transport and accommodation of players, visa and foreign exchange.
AIFF president Praful Patel called the government decision an “extremely positive development for Indian football.”

“I am confident India will be able to make a formidable and successful bid with the backing of the Union Government even though there are other strong contenders.”
 AIFF general secretary Kushal Das said the government  nod would help in a successful bid.

“It is a positive and encouraging step by the government and will greatly help in making a good and successful bid. I really think it would be a game changer as far as Indian football is concerned. The under-17 World Cup is a premier tournament of a really global sport, I think it will do wonders for development of football in India,” Das told Deccan Herald. “We are fully geared and very keen and quite hopeful of making a successful bid.”

India need to submit the bid by September before FIFA makes a final announcement in December.

Decision hailed

The football fraternity welcomed the government’s decision but at the same time expressed guarded optimism on whether it will usher in a new era for the sport. While there are three other bidders in South Africa, Uzbekistan and Ireland, it is understood that India has FIFA’s backing.

One among India’s most successful coaches Subhash Bhowmick termed the move as a “very significant step”.

“Let’s be honest, India will not play the real World Cup in the near future. If our kids get a flavour of what’s the standard of junior football worldwide, nothing like it. Now it’s up to AIFF and the government to draw a long-term plan,” Bhowmick, who guided Churchill Brothers to I-League triumph, said.

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