Work to be done: FIFA

World body officials inspect U-17 World Cup venues

Work to be done: FIFA

It isn’t easy to host a World Cup at any level. Providing accommodation and training facilities for the teams, ensuring that there is ample facilities for the fans and making sure that the venue is ready in all respects -- it is an uphill task and it takes plenty of work to pull it off.

That is exactly the message Bangalore got from the FIFA team that inspected the facilities which will be readied for the 2017 Under-17 World Cup.

Inaki Alvarez, FIFA’s Director of Competitions, said while he saw some plus points, lots of work needed to be done if Bangalore wanted to be completely ready as one of the host venues for tournament.

“I saw some positives but they require work,” he said. “We went to two stadia (Bangalore Football Stadium and Sree Kanteerava Stadium) and one training facility (HAL) and they could do with lots of help,” added Alvarez, who was accompanied by Vijay Parthasarathy, Manager of Competitions in the world governing body.

The two-member team have already inspected Goa, Mumbai and Pune among the eight venues shortlisted by the All India Football Federation, with the others being Kochi, Guwahati, New Delhi and Kolkata. FIFA will announce the six host cities in the early part of 2015.

Alvarez spent lots of time clicking pictures and talking to local officials before inspecting the various rooms at Kanteerava. If Bangalore gets the nod, one of either Sree Kanteerava or Bangalore Football Stadium would be the main venue, with the other a potential training base for participating teams. ASC and MEG grounds are also being considered as training bases.

The Bangalore Football Stadium would be completely rebuilt in time for the World Cup and as such, the FIFA delegates did not inspect the artificial turf and the dressing room there.

Jindal Steel Works, whose sports wing JSW Sports owns the Bengaluru FC, are to take up the reconstruction and according to Mustafa Ghouse, the CEO of JSW Sports, the work would begin once the current I-League season is over.

Ghouse said the plan is to remove the artificial turf and lay natural grass. Ghouse expects the project to be completed within two-and-a-half-years – well before the start of the World Cup.

Alvarez said a synthetic surface wouldn’t pose a problem per se. “Both (artificial as well as natural grass) are allowed but they come in with their own set of requirements.” It is paramount that the surface of the training as well as the match venue is the same.
Alvarez said there will be periodic visits to all the designated centres to monitor the work being done.

The two FIFA officials were joined by Shaji Prabhakaran, a FIFA developmental officer for South and Central Asia, Roma Khanna, AIFF’s Club Licensing Manager and Anil Kamat, AIFF’s Assistant General Secretary for Competitions. The FIFA team will wind up the visit with a trip to Kolkata, where they also plan to watch an I League encounter between Mohun Bagan and East Bengal before flying out on March 1.

Meanwhile, KSFA President AR Khaleel sounded upbeat about the prospect of World Cup action in the city. “Bangalore’s importance cannot be diminished by any other Indian city. And the approval plans for the complete refurbishment of the stadium has been cleared by the corporation and it has now gone up to the cabinet,” he said.

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