Football governing body FIFA on Saturday decided to shift India’s group matches during the upcoming U-17 World Cup from Mumbai to national capital New Delhi on the request of the national government.
“Following a request from the All India Football Federation to hold the group matches of the FIFA U-17 World Cup India 2017 in which India are playing in New Delhi, and the fruitful discussions between the Local Organising Committee (LOC) and the local government, FIFA has agreed to amend the match schedule,” the Local Organising Committee (LOC) said in a statement.
FIFA had initially scheduled India’s group matches in Mumbai on the insistence of All India Football Federation (AIFF) but later India’s football body asked FIFA to shift them to New Delhi after pressure from sports ministry. The ministry thought it would be better to have the matches of the national team in the national capital.
The matches which have been changed as per the new schedule will now have India, automatically seeded A1 in Group A, will be New Delhi. Teams from Group B will be in Navi Mumbai. No change has been made to the matches of knockout stage.
“Attendance, especially in the venue where the home team plays its matches, is one of the priorities of the FIFA U-17 World Cup India 2017, crucial to achieving the purpose of better positioning football in the country, so the government’s commitment in this regard is highly appreciated,” FIFA’s Head of Tournaments Jaime Yarza said.
“The presence of the secretary of sports at the meetings concerning the state of the works in the stadium and training sites sends a positive message and reflects the strong involvement of the authorities. We expect this involvement to extend into the area of pollution prevention, which has been an important topic discussed in relation to the tournament, in particular in Delhi. We are now expecting an action response plan to prevent pollution levels from affecting the tournament, which ideally should continue beyond the tournament.”
India, who host the tournament, have automatically qualified for it. There are 23 more teams in the tournaments and they are: Iran, Iraq, Japan, Korea DPR (Asia); New Caledonia, New Zealand (Oceania); Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Paraguay (South America); Costa Rica, Honduras, Mexico, USA (North, Central America and Caribbean); England, France, Germany, Spain, Turkey (Europe); Mali, Niger, Ghana, and Guinea (Arica).
(Inputs from PTI)