The visiting FIFA delegation has given a green signal to Kochi’s Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium for the U17 World Cup, making it the first Indian venue to meet the governing body's international standards today. A 13 member FIFA team arrived in the city on Tuesday, to discuss necessary changes to be made post the ongoing Indian Super League (ISL) season.
“We are happy to announce Kochi as a venue for next year’s World Cup,” declared Tournament Director of the LOC, Javier Ceppi.
“A lot of work has been put in areas people generally don't generally see - from sewage facilities to toilets, it’s all been taken care of really well and that for me is very commendable. State Government now need to focus on finishing the work at the stadium and especially the training sites within very tight deadlines, but overall it is commendable how the venue has shaped up.” he added.
The venue confirmation was also greeted with positive words from FIFA event manager Marion Mayer-Vorefelder and project head Tracy Lu. However, the duo also emphasised that there is still some pending work left for the stadium to be 'perfect'.
Lu stated, “We are extremely happy with the progress we see here; from our last inspection a lot of development already taking place and that's extremely encouraging. The dressing rooms, for instance have been renovated and a lot of other construction work has been initiated - I believe thus that it would make for a terrific World Cup venue.”
FIFA's local organising committee head Joy Bhattacharya said, “The FIFA committee has already inspected the stadium twice. This was the third and final inspection, with the committee deciding whether Kochi will be a venue in the future or not. Yes, we are all aware that there is work pending, but the FIFA delegation is confident that the work will be completed on time, hence they declared this the first venue.”
A major part of the work related to the ground has been completed, with basic work such as the installation of bucket seats in the gallery remaining. Due to the ongoing ISL season, these changes cannot be implemented immediately. FIFA officials also pointed out that some minor changes would be required for the stadium's drainage system and toilets.
This is the first time since February that FIFA has inspected the stadiums, and they seem to be happy with the progress. Joy added, “Let's be honest here, obviously a lot of work is left, the work isn't over. The stadium has to be absolutely perfect with no loopholes. Constant monitoring will ensure match-day readiness.”
FIFA Regional Officer Shaji Prabhakaran who is also a member of the inspection committee confirmed Kerala's selection. He said, “We are very happy that Kerala has been ratified and we would like to congratulate the state government for making it a world-class stadium.” The FIFA delegation will now travel to the DY Patil stadium in Navi Mumbai, followed by inspection in Goa, New Delhi, Guwahati and Kolkata.
This was arguably FIFA’s most detailed inspection yet with representatives from Competitions, Marketing, Communications, TV, Ticketing, HBS, Security and Accommodation departments travelling to India.
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