With Kolkata's ratification as the sixth city, which will host the under-17 FIFA World Cup, to be held in India in October 2017, all decks have been cleared for India to host its first ever world level FIFA tournament. A 13-member FIFA delegation, led by Tracy Lu and Marion Mayer-Vorfelder, along with the Local Organising Committee, visited all the six venues for the tournament—Kochi, Navi Mumbai, Goa, New Delhi, Guwahati and Kolkata between October 19-25, 2016. The delegation deemed the progress to be satisfactory and seemed upbeat about India’s first ever FIFA tournament.
The delegation also announced dates for the tournament, which will be hosted by the ratified cities, between October 6 and 28, next year.
Emphasis was placed on the state of the pitches and training sites to make sure they would be up to the mark when the tournament commences. Issues that were discussed with the local authorities included stadium infrastructure, competitions, marketing, media, television, tourism and public promotions and transport, among others.
Talking about the results of the official inspection, event head for the tournament, Marion Mayer-Vorfelder said, "The state of West Bengal has shown tremendous enthusiasm in getting this venue ready and we are thoroughly impressed. The association of football to the state of West Bengal goes back to the 19th century and we are really happy to announce it as a FIFA World Cup venue. From what my team saw, it was acknowledged that preparations for the marquee event have begun in full swing and the efforts put in by the state governments and other stakeholders were welcomed and accepted."
On behalf of the LOC, Project Director Joy Bhattacharjya said, "The kind of work that the different state governments have put so far has been great and now we are looking forward to keep working with them towards increasing the foothold of the event in their states and across the country."
Besides visiting the Salt Lake stadium, the delegation also assessed the condition of the training sites proposed for the venue, namely the VYBK Practice Grounds 1 and 2, and the SAI Netaji Subhas Eastern Regional Centre Pitch 1 and 2.
With regards to the overall preparedness of the venues, Javier Ceppi, Tournament Director of the LOC added, "We are very happy to complete the process of ratification of venues for the FIFA U-17 World Cup India 2017 with Kolkata. This goes to show that, a year from the tournament, we are in a good place with the progress made. We now need to concentrate on all the details that will make this tournament successful."
The next official FIFA inspection is scheduled early next year to ascertain the progress on the pending works and the operational planning for India 2017.