Kolkata: The president of FIFA, Gianni Infantino had once labelled India as the ,”sleeping giant” of football. And quite rightly India, the hosts of the U-17 FIFA World Cup are taking ‘giant’ strides and leaving no stone unturned for the progress of popularity of football in the country as according to the Tournament director, the tickets for the U-17 tournament would be available at less than Rs 100. And such a development is likely draw in huge crowds and have the stadiums fully packed, in a country where people swear by the name of cricket when it comes to sports.
“It would be economical and definitely less than going to a movie, definitely less than watching other leagues. The idea is, you can watch a World Cup match in less than Rs 100” said Javier Ceppi, the director of the tournament, in an interaction with the reporters. “We need to treat this as our first World Cup. It’s is our first time to prove ourselves and push ourselves. We cannot use the past benchmarks or in other tournaments” he added.
The ticket prices haven’t been revealed as of now and would be made known to the people by mid-May. Understanding the importance of this mega-event in a country like India, Ceppi realised that it was the Indians who should take it as part of their responsibility to take the game forward in the country. He said, “Different countries have different realities. The whole of Chile fits in Delhi, and Kolkata on a weekday. It’s all of our responsibility. India have been waiting for this moment for so long. we can show good go to the world. The interest from the states, sponsors, organisers and everybody, from every community be it football or arts or tourism is very different and the interest is quite a lot.”
Other than the tickets, the developmental work going on in the various grounds in India has impressed the man. Focusing on the Salt Lake Stadium in Kolkata, the place which is known for it’s rich history in football, he said that the stadium would be ready well in advance and the work would be complete by over 90% before the final inspection happens in March.
“We are extremely satisfied with the progress. It’s very hard to realise the amount of progress this stadium has made since my last visit. We know everything is on track. This stadium is huge and humongous, the capacity is coming down from 115,000 to 87,000. The work here takes time.”
Concluding his conversation with the reporters, Ceppi said, “It would have been impossible to meet the January 31 deadline. But the stadium will be completed well in advance before the World Cup final inspection in the end of March. By that inspection 90-95 percent of work will be done. There will be certain things like exterior painting will be left as monsoon may affect the progress. But the core infrastructure work will be done when FIFA inspects for the final time in March.”
The U-17 FIFA World Cup is going to be one of the biggest landmarks in the history of football in India. The 24-nation competition is set to square off from October 2017 and the success of this tournament would have a good say in the progress of the game in the country. And and keeping these things in mind, efforts are being made so that through this tournament, football finds an important place in the minds of the cricket-frenzy Indians.
(With inputs from PTI)