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FIFA U-17 World Cup: Why India's request for an opening ceremony was rejected

Sumedh Pande
923   //    05 Oct 2017, 17:06 IST

No opening ceremony in the U-17 World Cup

What's the story? 

As has been the case on every opening day of any sporting league in the country, the Sports ministry and All India Football Federation (AIFF) had made plans for a grand ceremony to mark the start of the FIFA U-17 World Cup. But those plans did not see the light of day with the FIFA authorities rejecting the idea on conventional grounds.

Both FIFA president, Gianni Infantino and tournament director, Javier Ceppi, were completely against the idea. The authorities wanted the AIFF to concentrate their efforts on the game rather than on glamorous events. 

When asked about the governing body's refusal to grant permission for an opening ceremony, Ceppi said, "An opening ceremony is not a usual aspect of the conduct of a Fifa U-17 World Cup because in these tournaments football is the real star. There was a query by the government of India at some point of time to do one but it is not confirmed that it will happen."

In case you didn't know...

Last month, India's sports minister, Vijay Goel was keen on organising a grand opening ceremony at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in New Delhi but FIFA denied authorities the permission to host any such event. Goel was also hoping to invite Prime Minister Narendra Modi for the ceremony. 

The heart of the matter 

The governing body were of the view that the money should be spent on the needs of the game rather than on the glitz and glamour associated with the country. Ceppi added that the budget for the opening ceremony should be spent on the development of youth and to lay a solid foundation for India's "footballing future". 

What's next? 

The FIFA U-17 World Cup will begin on the 6th of October with India being grouped together with the likes of the United States of America, Colombia, and Ghana. The young Blues will play all of their matches in the capital city. 

Author's take 

FIFA's decision to reject the plans for an opening ceremony reflects their aim of focusing solely on the sport rather than the showbiz involved in the country. The Indian Premier League and other sporting competitions see an opening ceremony being arranged every year but the decision not to have one at the FIFA U-17 World Cup is a step taken in the right direction.

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Sumedh Pande
An avid Premier League watcher with specialization in transfer news and post match analysis. Follow European and Indian football with minute attention with one eye on the world of cricket.
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