As the football Under-17 World Cup fever grips Kolkata and the city braces for the final match at the Salt Lake stadium on October 28, West Bengal Sports Minister Arup Biswas has asked FIFA to make an exception in its stringent security rules — allow students to carry tiffin boxes.
The Salt Lake stadium, synonymous with the fierce Kolkata derby between East Bengal and Mohun Bagan, was revamped ahead of the FIFA tournament. “I have communicated to officials at FIFA to allow students, who will be coming from across the state, to watch the matches with their tiffin. We want young students to watch the matches and draw inspiration,” Biswas said.
There are stringent security measures at the stadium, complete with 250 CCTV cameras, some night-vision enabled, and drones that keep watch. There is a four-layer security system with restrictions on spectators including food brought from outside.
An official of the Sports Ministry said: “The problem with the restriction on outside food in case of students is that many of these students are coming from villages and small towns. Many might not be able to afford the food inside the stadium. We would like to let students be allowed to bring their tiffin so that they can watch football, draw inspiration, and at the same time, eat well.”
The West Bengal government has decided to provide free tickets to around 5,000 school and college students. An education department official said: “We will be giving free passes to about 5,000 students from different colleges and schools of the state everyday to watch the matches.” The official said the passes are being given to students who play football or are involved in other sports.
Separate seating arrangements have been put in place for students while a fleet of 70 AC and non-AC buses will carry students to and from the stadium. “We will be providing food and accommodation to students from far-flung places,” the official said.