'Cherish the legacy of U-17 meet'

'Cherish the legacy of U-17 meet'

Happy with the conduct the FIFA U-17 World Cup, FIFA president Gianni Infantino described the first-ever FIFA event to be held in India as a resounding success.

“When the U-17 World Cup was allotted to India, I wasn’t a part of FIFA. But now I can say that it’s all set to surpass the all-time attendance record for the U-17 World Cup achieved in China in 1985,” said Infantino at a media briefing following the FIFA Council meeting here.

With India already having submitted a bid for the FIFA U-20 World Cup in 2019, Infantino assured the success of the U-17 World Cup will be taken into consideration. “It will certainly be an element when the hosts for the next U-20 World Cup (to be held in 2019) would be announced early in 2018.”

But with Infantino stating that FIFA has received interests from many countries to host the U-20 World Cup and with Asia hosting this year’s edition in South Korea, India’s chances of getting the nod is slim.

However, Infantino felt one needs to ‘’cherish what has been built and the legacy which the U-17 World Cup will leave behind.”

“When the semifinal was shifted from Guwahati to Kolkata the entire ticketing system had broken down as there were so many fans willing to buy tickets. That’s what you call true passion,” he said.

Speaking about the popularity of the game in India, the AIFF president Praful Patel stated the biggest challenge is to change the demographics of football in India. “We don’t have a pan-India footprint and despite football being popular, it’s not played all over. The game needs to be played across the length and breadth,” said the AIFF president.

Prize money hiked

On Friday, the FIFA Council approved an increase in the prize money for the 2018 FIFA World Cup to $400 million — a 12 per cent increase from the $358 million of the 2014 edition.

The council ratified the decision to approve the enhanced bidding regulations for the 2026 FIFA World Cup and appointed the members of the Bid Evaluation Task Force.

The FIFA chief also said that the Confederations Cup could be replaced with a new world club competition.

The Confederations Cup is held in the year before a World Cup and features the respective national team champions of each continent.

Infantino also confirmed that FIFA will officially recognise as world club champions the winners of the old Intercontinental Cup dating back to 1960.

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