U-17 World Cup: Stadiums and facilities ready

The operational phase, like installing goal posts, camera platform, the furnitures are only pending, according to Javier Ceppi, director of the local organising committee.

The iconic Vivekananda Yuba Bharati Krirangan, popularly known as Salt Lake Stadium, in Kolkata will host the U-17 football World Cup final on October 28.   -  AFP

A frenetic last-minute completion of infrastructure similar to what happened during the 2010 Commonwealth Games will not occur and all the facilities for next month’s under-17 football World Cup are ready, according to a top official of the local organising committee.

The U-17 World Cup to be held across six cities from October 6 to 28 is not of the huge scale as that of the 2010 Delhi CWG. Nonetheless, it’s a prestigious global football tournament and the first ever FIFA event in the country.

Unlike the 2010 CWG which was marred by construction delays, FIFA U-17 World Cup local organising committee director Javier Ceppi said that preparations for the football event are according to schedule. “For the last three years, we have been planning for the delivery of this tournament with the stakeholders, including the state and the central government. We understand that there is a tendency of last minute preparedness and completion of infrastructure, last minute running around. Fortunately, this seems not to be the case in this tournament at least,” Ceppi said.

“We have no worry over the operational delivery of the event. There are very minor things pending. We are into the operational phase now, like installing goal posts, camera platform, the furnitures, in short all the installation of non-permanent elements of the facilities.

“All the major works have been completed. The training grounds, dressing rooms are ready. 25 days to go, it is all about operations and which is where we should be. That is something quite positive and we are happy,” he added.

Kolkata’s Salt Lake Stadium, which will host the final on October 28, was the first to be handed over to the organisers on Sunday. Ceppi said Guwahati will be the next and he expects the stadium at the Assam capital to be handed over by this weekend.

According to schedule, all the stadia were to be handed over to the organisers two weeks before the start of the tournament on October 6.

“We are expecting hand over of stadium at Guwahati by Assam government towards this weekend or early next week at the latest. We have to take over Kolkata and Guwahati earlier than other four venues because we do not want to get stuck due to Durga Puja festivals.

“We had planned that everything should be installed and tested before Durga Puja (in Kolkata and Guwahati). All the other four venues will also be handed over to us by September 21,” said Ceppi.

He, however, said that taking over does not mean that there is nothing left to be done at the stadia and other facilities. “The minor works like installation of internet connection for the media, completion of painting of the stadia, etc will go on, as also the fine-tuning of the facilities,” said the Chilean, who informed that a FIFA team will visit all the venues in the third week of this month for a final inspection.

“Regarding the security aspect of the tournament, we have been working with the ministry of home affairs and its state counterparts and other stakeholders. And, about accommodations of the players and officials, hotels have been finalised long time back and it was never an issue.”

Asked about the status of field of play, Ceppi said that the quality of pitches used will be of highest quality. “In the past three months, we have taken over the field of play and we are doing the maintenance. All the playing fields in all the six venues will be of high quality. We have spent quite a big amount of human and financial resources on the maintenance of ground so that they are of world class as they are of critical nature.”

He said the capital city’s Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium will also be ready on time and the new sports minister Rajyavardhan Rathore was pleased with the renovation work when he made a surprise visit to the venue last week. “There is nothing of concern at the JLN. New dressing rooms have been constructed and the playing field is looking nice. I was not there when the minister visited the stadium but from what I could gather he was quite pleased with the renovation work.”

Ceppi informed that the sale of tickets was picking up in Delhi also after initial sluggishness. “In the last week, ticket sales in Delhi has been the highest of all the venues. It seems people are realising now that India is playing in Delhi and so we need to watch India matches.”

He was, however, non-committal on whether Prime Minister Narendra Modi would be present at the JLN Stadium on the tournament opening day. “We would love for the Prime Minister to be present throughout the tournament. He is one figure who is extremely supportive of this tournament. We will be honoured if he spends some time from his busy schedule.”

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