Kochi’s preparation and commitment for hosting FIFA U-17 World Cup matches have come under the scanner time and again. Although the state Kerala has few of the most ardent football fans in the country, evident from the crowds that throng matches that the Kerala Blasters play in the Indian Super League, the city of Kochi was the most lethargic to get its venue ready. It has now emerged that a herd of cows were grazing at the Kochi Parade Ground, which is one of the assigned training grounds for the tournament.
According the English edition of Malayalam news website Manorama, the Parade Ground has turned a grazing field for cows and goats in the absence of a fence around it. The Parade Ground cannot be fenced permanently due to its standing as a heritage area. In fact, any infrastructure, including dressing rooms and washrooms, can be built only on a temporary basis.
The FIFA U-17 World Cup Local Organising Committee had, on May 19, 2017 declared Kochi’s Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium to be fit for hosting the tournament. However, tournament director Javier Ceppi had said that the stadium’s capacity will be brought down to 41,748, instead of the initial 55,000. “The stadium is fit for accommodating 41,748 people. Not a single person more,” Ceppi had said. The tournament starts on October 24 and Kochi is set to host eight matches.