May 30 tentative deadline for completing work for U-17 World Cup

Kolkata: Union Sports Minister Vijay Goel on Friday said all remaining renovation work for the upcoming FIFA Under-17 World Cup should be completed by May 30 along with Kochi which he said is lagging behind.

On an inspection tour of centres which will host the youth football showpiece for the first time from October 6-28, Goel was in the city at the Salt Lake Stadium and Sports Authority of India (SAI) training centre to take stock of the work being done.

Speaking to reporters after the visit, Goel said: “It’s a great opportunity and a proud moment for India that for the first time India will be hosting a FIFA U-17 World Cup. This will be organised in six cities — Goa, Guwahati, Kochi, Delhi, Navi Mumbai and Kolkata.

“Our Prime Minister is taking personal interest in this World Cup FIFA football and I hope with the cooperation of all the stakeholders including the states we will definitely organise these tournaments very well.

“I want to plan to go to all the six cities to see the preparations myself. Already I visited Kochi where I found the preparations were not up to the mark.”

Kochi left the 21-member FIFA delegation unimpressed with the work being done with shops around the vicinity of the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium being a hindrance. There was talk of the southern city missing out with FIFA also saying it has contingency plans in case there is a problem. Goel, who visited Kochi first, said the authorities have promised to complete the work by May 15.

“They have given me the deadline of May 15 to complete all the preparations of FIFA U-17 World Cup at Kochi,” Goel said.

Goel was satisfied with the work done at the Salt Lake Stadium, the venue for the final, adding that the floodlights and dressing rooms at the training centre in SAI, where there will be two practice pitches, still need to be completed.

“Today I visited Swami Vivekananda Yuva Bharati Krirangan and I am quite satisfied about the preparations of the World Cup at the Kolkata stadiums. I also inspected SAI compound training centres. I found out that the floodlights and changing rooms work is still being done,” he said.

“They have told us they will complete the work in the next 15-20 days. All work will be completed by May 30, the authorities have told us. I will monitor it from time to time from Delhi and if needed will visit again.”

Goel said his next stop will be Navi Mumbai followed by Guwahati. “I am planning to go to Navi Mumbai next, and then Guwahati. The money on this is being spent by central and state governments,” he said.

Asked about the crowds coming to watch the games, Goel said effort will be taken to ensure matches are well attended.

“In the FIFA meetings, the organising committee meetings — in those we are specially trying to not leave stadiums empty. The hype will be so much that the stadium capacity will fall short. In schools, we will try and bring the kids to the stadiums to watch games. we have done a similar programme in Goa,” he said.

Goel added that the central government has set aside Rs 200 crore for the U-17 World Cup. “If needed, it will be increased,” he said.

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