ISL 2017: Proper football stadium a need of the hour for India
It was a memorable, record-breaking and a spectacular FIFA U17 World Cup. Congratulations to the Organising Committee for their tireless efforts. India now has six world-class stadiums in the cities of Delhi, Goa, Kolkata, Navi Mumbai, Guwahati, and Kochi.
The Salt Lake Stadium that hosted the final of the World Cup has undergone a major renovation work at a cost of ?125 crore, thanks to the West Bengal government for their major contribution. The major concern about these six stadiums is that not even one out of those six is a proper football stadium.
London’s Wembley Stadium hosts Music concerts and the Rugby League Challenge cup regularly, but when it comes to the maintenance before a football match after such events, it is way ahead of the stadiums in India. Though the Wembley hosts such events England boasts of many proper football stadiums, unlike India.
The D Y Patil stadium in Navi Mumbai has hosted the finals of the inaugural IPL season in 2008 and the inaugural ISL season in 2014. This stadium has the Football pitch in the middle of an oval-shaped ground that looks awkward.
The Salt Lake Stadium has a running track around the pitch and has hosted certain other non-football events.
The Indira Gandhi Athletic Stadium in Guwahati also has the Athletic tracks around the pitch. It hosted the 33rd National Games of India in 2007. The football world has seen many Athletic Stadiums like the Stadio Olimpico, Napoli Stadium, Berlin Olympic Stadium, which have their own history.
The countries like Italy and Germany have many proper stadiums just like England. This is not the case here in India. The Fatorda stadium has hosted many cricket matches in the past before the start ISL in 2014.
The Goans who are ardent football fans, and with Goa itself being one of the football hotbeds of India, deserves a proper stadium dedicated to the sport. New Delhi's Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium hosted the 2010 Commonwealth Games. It played host to the matches of India in the FIFA U17 World Cup as well.
The Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Kochi, built in the year 1996, has hosted many cricket matches involving India in the past. The shops surrounding the stadium created a major problem for the FIFA, just before the tournament. FIFA wanted the shops shut for the entire duration of the tournament that the shopkeepers had initially refused.
Just before the tournament, the shopkeepers got their compensation, and hence the problem came to a halt. If not, Kochi would have lost its hosting rights, which would have been a major embarrassment for the football-crazy people of Kerala. All these six stadiums faced another problem -- capacity.
After the renovation works, the capacities of almost all the stadiums had gone down immensely, citing security reasons. Recently, Javier Ceppi, who was the tournament director for the FIFA U17 World Cup, declared the top-tier of Kochi Stadium as dangerous for allowing spectators during the ISL games of Kerala Blasters FC.
At present, India only has one world-class proper football stadium, theTranstadia in Ahmedabad. Having a proper stadium with a good infrastructure might improve the game's standard. The football hotbeds of the NorthEast, Kerala, and Goa deserve proper stadiums in the near future.