U-17 World Cup: FIFA urges Delhi to hasten training sites work

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New Delhi: The World football governing body FIFA, while inspecting the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium here, on Wednesday urged Indian authorities to speed up work on areas like training sites for the Under-17 World Cup which is less than 200 days away.

An eight-member FIFA team led by head of events Jaime Yarza kicked off inspection of the six venues in the country, starting with the Nehru Stadium in the capital.

“We are satisfied, we have seen things move, we have seen things improve. But Delhi is a very important city in the world and the stadium should represent the city in the best way, and that means the stadium has to look really top notch,” Yarza said.

Yarza added there was no major cause for concern at this stage.

“The competition areas are partially done only and also the training sites, which are important for the players. They (organisers) have a very good plan and they are working according to the plan. So, for me, these two are some of the key areas,” the FIFA official said.

“A lot of work has been done, a lot of work will be done in the future. They just need to speed up a little bit more, but we are convinced everything is going to be alright. There is no major or big concern for us at this stage,” said Yarza, who was hoping for work on core infrastructure to be finished by now.

FIFA members along with Local Organising Committee (LOC) delegation visited the Nehru Stadium complex to take stock of the progress of preparations for the youth showpiece.

“The support that we have got from the government, ministry, Sports of Authority of India has been fantastic. We worked very hard to make sure that the facilities are being renovated as per our requirement,” Tournament Director Javier Ceppi said.

“The stadium was beautifully built for the 2010 Commonwealth Games and we need to bring back that splendour,” he added.

Ceppi reiterated that work should be complete by the end of April.

The capacity of the stadium, besides logistical considerations, will be the key when it comes to selecting venue for final of the tournament, Yarza said.

“We prefer one of the bigger stadiums but there are logistical considerations like where the main office is based during the tournament,” he said.

“The selection of final venue depends on various factors — the community and the passion for football. So, choosing a venue for hosting the final of a tournament like the U17 World Cup is not just based on our requirements. It’s a combination of various factors that go together, including fans, authorities and obviously the capacity of the stadium.”

Present at the event were FIFA Head of Tournaments Jamie Yarza, Youth Affairs and Sports Ministry Joint Secretary Inder Dhamija, Sports Authority of India Director Sanjiv Baranwal, Tournament Director Javier Ceppi, LOC Project Director Joy Bhattacharjya.

“We’re appreciative of Delhi University for agreeing to be our training site. We’re also very happy to confirm that Sudeva FC will be the fourth training ground in Delhi. There is still some work that is happening but we are confident that with the support of Sports Authority of India, it will be able to be completed very shortly,” Ceppi said.

The next inspection will be around the time of the draw of lots, which will be held in July.

The delegation will continue its inspection visit to the five remaining host cities with Goa as the next stop, followed by Kochi, Navi Mumbai, Guwahati and Kolkata.

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