India’s group stage matches in the upcoming FIFA U-17 World Cup are set to be shifted from Mumbai to Delhi. FIFA stated that the world body has taken the decision on request from the host government. The All India Football Federation had earlier asked FIFA to shift the venue hosting India’s matches from Mumbai to Delhi due to pressure from the Sports Ministry.
AIFF had initially wanted Mumbai to host all of India’s matches in the group stage of the tournament. Since then, the central Sports Ministry had demanded for the matches to be shifted to Delhi citing the need for the national capital to be hosting India’s matches.
“We are working on the most beneficial decision for the tournament. We take the requests from the Indian Government very seriously, as it’s our main partner in the organisation of the FIFA U-17 World Cup,” FIFA’s head of events Jaime Yarza is quoted as saying by PTI.
India would have been placed in Group A and all matches of the pool were to be hosted in Navi Mumbai’s DY Patil Stadium. If the matches are shifted, Navi Mumbai will be hosting Group B games.
“Together with the AIFF and the Government, this world cup will change the future of football in India. We are convinced to reach a decision which will satisfy all parties,” Yarza said.
Yarza also said that at least two top footballers would be present for the draw that is set to be held on July 7 in Mumbai.
“Well, we cannot spoil the fun for the fans. We will have two top players for the official draw on the 7th July, as well as some other appearances until the start of the tournament,” said Yarza, “But it’s difficult to find time on the agendas of such football legends, so we’d rather work carefully to make sure that these legends make an impact on the Indian fans. But one thing we can confirm: football fans will not be disappointed!”
He also expressed confidence that ticket sales in Goa and Delhi, where the response has been lukewarm as compared to the overwhelming sales in Kolkata, Guwahati, and Kochi, will pick up after the draw.
“We are very satisfied with venues like Guhawati, Kochi or Kolkata. The Indian public seems to be aware of the importance of this world cup for the future of football in India, and no one would like to miss the stars of tomorrow in their own country,” he said, “Having said that, we need to increase our efforts in Navi Mumbai, New Delhi and Goa. But it’s customary that ticket sales increases once the teams’ venues are known, so we’ll analyse carefully the ticket sales reports after the draw. In general, FIFA is very satisfied with ticket sales until now.”