U-17 WC: Shops around Kochi stadium pose security risk

There are some 150 shops around the Nehru Stadium and some of them were even dealing with petroleum products.

The shops around the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium are a major security concern for the Uder-17 World Cup in Kochi.   -  Thulasi Kakkat

More than all the unfinished business inside the Nehru Stadium, one got the feeling that the shops around the oval had Jaime Yarza, the FIFA’s Head of Events, more worried.

There are some 150 shops around the Nehru Stadium – all rented out by the stadium’s guardian GCDA – and the FIFA delegation, which came to inspect the ground ahead of this October’s Under-17 World Cup here, feels that they pose a huge security risk to the event.

“Though we had been talking about the stores around the stadium since we started discussing the World Cup, we have not had any news on this,” said Yarza.

“For safety and security reasons, they need to be closed during the tournament. There are even some stores that have fuel tanks in their facilities and these obviously need to be removed.

“We cannot have 40,000-50,000 spectators in the stadium and these stores being operated. All the stores need to be closed 10 days before the tournament so that we can do all the security checks and finalise the access routes. That way, we can ensure that there is no security risk for any of the people participating in the event.”

Shops will be closed

A.P.M. Mohammed Hanish, the Kerala Government’s Nodal Officer for the World Cup, said that the shops would be closed as per the FIFA team’s instructions.

“We are having a talk about that with the GCDA chairman C.N. Mohanan. We have decided to close the shops during the World Cup and more than that, the GCDA chairman will inspect the shops that use hazardous and explosive substances,” Hanish told Sportstar on Friday evening.

“The FIFA team has said that the shops will have to be closed 10 days prior to the World Cup. That has to be enforced.”

  Dugout videos