Salt Lake handed to FIFA ahead of U-17 WC

The official countdown to U-17 World Cup starts as Salt Lake Stadium is handed over to FIFA.

The Salt Lake stadium will host the FIFA U-17 World Cup final.   -  AFP

The responsibility to host the first FIFA World Cup final on Indian soil may have resulted in a considerable drop in the capacity of the giant Salt Lake Stadium (Vivekananda Yuba Bharati Krirangan) , but it has helped in making it a world-class venue with augmented facilities and comfort for the spectators.

This was the high point of discussion on Sunday when the facility, owned by the Government of West Bengal, was officially handed over to the world governing body of football – FIFA – for the conduct of the Under-17 World Cup, which gets underway from October 6.

Among the six venues in India, Salt Lake Stadium will be hosting 10 matches including the Group F league matches, a pre-quarterfinal, a quarterfinal, before the third-place play-off and the final on October 28. “I can say 98 percent of the work on the stadium has been completed and the remaining two percent will be done well before the tournament starts,” the state Sports Minister, Aroop Biswas, said after officially handing over the stadium to FIFA U-17 World Cup local organising committee tournament director, Javier Ceppi.

The seating capacity of Salt Lake Stadium, which once recorded a turnout of 1,20,000 spectators, has been reduced to around 80,000 after the installation of bucket seats. The minister informed that FIFA has made the official capacity to 66,687 after assessing security aspects. “The work that has been done in renovating it is fantastic and the stadium is up to the standard of any venue that has hosted a World Cup final,” Javier Ceppi said after the modalities of the handover were completed.

The renovation work on the stadium started on February 1, 2015 and the state government spent well over Rs. 100 crore to get it ready according to the specifications mandated by FIFA. “The handover means that we now take certain responsibility and certain decisions in regard to the last phase of rectification work and make it fully operational for the tournament," Ceppi said. “We want to make sure that the stadium is ready in terms of safety, security and entertainment purposes as well," he added.