Sports reporter GUWAHATI, Feb 19 - Although it is quite early to say whether the Indira Gandhi Athletic Stadium, Sarusajai here will be able to host the FIFA U-17 World Cup in 2017 or not, but the FIFA delegation, led by Jaime Yarza, FIFA’s head of events was seen quite optimistic regarding the possibilities.
FIFA officials visiting the Indira Gandhi Athletic Stadium in Guwahati on Friday. – UB Photos
A nine-member FIFA delegation today visited the Sarusajai stadium to take stoke of the progress for the forthcoming U-17 World Cup football.
“It’s a fantastic infrastructure here but we all know that it is not a football stadium. So it is not going to be easy to make all the changes and amendments to convert it into a World Cup venue. The top teams in the world will be coming here. We are also aware of the fact that this Northeastern region of India is one of the most important football regions in the world. There is a lot of passion and interest for the game. It is very important for us to work here and bring the tournament to a place where most people love football,” said Jaime Yarza after inspecting the stadium which has been picked as one of the possible six venues to host matches of the mega-event scheduled next year.
The delegation is in India to oversee preparations for the U-17 World Cup.
“We have discussed regarding the changes required with the State association as well as the All India Football Federation. For us it is not only about the World Cup but it is a long time project. We have a lot of developmental projects being done and organised in this region and we intend to go on with this so that the people remain with the tradition of football,” he added.
The delegation will return in October by which all the core infrastructure must be ready, one year before the tournament.
Being asked regarding the changes sought for, Yarza said “We have sought for various places for televisions, changes in the media tribune, the pitch is also a little bit matter of concern regarding the size.”
“Organising World Cup is one thing but using it for long term improvement is the key. We have worked very closely with the different State associations to not only ensure that there is a good infrastructure but also that there is active participation,” said Mike Pfister, senior development manager, FIFA.
“We are extremely happy with support from the Assam Football Association and the State government. We have of course seen improvements because of the South Asian Games being hosted here. I was here during the opening ceremony and it was good to see how the stadium reacts with full capacity. I have been here for the Northeast United FC matches and it is great to see the passion for football,” said Javier Ceppi, tournament director.
Secretary of the Assam Football Association, Ankur Dutta thanked FIFA and the AIFF for their continuous support in hosting few matches of the U-17 World Cup here in the city.