Goa unlikely to get FIFA U-17 World Cup marquee matches

Goa’s chances of hosting marquee matches in the FIFA U-17 World Cup appear to have taken a hit owing to low attendance in the AFC U-16 event last year.

Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar with Jaime Yarza, Head of Tournaments for FIFA.   -  Special arrangement

One of the traditional hubs of Indian football alongside Kolkata and Kerala, Goa’s chances of hosting marquee matches in the FIFA U-17 World Cup appear to have taken a hit owing to low attendance in the AFC U-16 event last year.

“We have always said that for marquee matches, such as quarterfinals, semifinals or final, the criteria would be readiness and willingness. In terms of readiness, Goa had the advantage of hosting the AFC U-16 Championship, so infrastructure is well covered.

“For the willingness, we have to take into account how important it is for a state, its people and all the stakeholders involved with football to host these matches. We had a test on the AFC U-16 and we have analysed the attendance data, which was certainly not too encouraging,” tournament director Javier Ceppi said.

The mega event is to be held across the country in six centres from October 6 to 28.

An eight-member FIFA team, led by head of events Jaime Yarza, has set out to inspect the host cities.

Newly appointed state Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar welcomed the FIFA delegation on Thursday and pledged full support for the upcoming tournament.

Commenting on the Nehru Stadium in Fatorda, Parrikar said, “Goa is known for its love for football and we will ensure that no stone is left unturned in preparations for the tournament. It will be a wonderful opportunity for all Goans to witness a spectacle such as the World Cup.”

Earlier in the day, the FIFA delegation along with the Local Organising Committee visited the stadium and the training sites to take a comprehensive look at the facilities.

The LOC and FIFA experts expressed their satisfaction with the work which has been put in at the venue.

Describing the preparations of the venue, Yarza said, “I am pretty excited to see the way the stadium has shaped over the last year since I last came here, it played host to the World Cup Qualifiers and from the reports, I gauge that the authorities here did a great job at it.

“Also, the meeting with the chief minister was pretty fruitful. He assured us of continued support and that all requirements would be met leading up to the tournament.”

Speaking about the readiness of the venue, Ceppi said: “On the infrastructure front, things are almost ready but we now need to go into the finer details of all the operation plans such as security, transport, health, promotions etc. We will keep working with the authorities of the state government just as we have done for the past two and a half years to make sure that all the responsibilities for the state are complied with.”

The delegation will continue its inspection visit to the remaining venues — Kochi, Navi Mumbai, Guwahati and Kolkata.

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