Satisfied with the facilities and preparations, football’s world governing body FIFA on Thursday ratified Navi Mumbai as a venue for the Under-17 World Cup to be held in India next year.
A 23-member high-level delegation, comprising experts from FIFA and Local Organising Committee (LOC), visited the D Y Patil Sports stadium in Navi Mumbai this morning before announcing its decision to select the stadium.
“It was November 2014, when Joy (Bhattacharya) and myself took probably the single most important flight for this tournament. We were struggling to find (to find) a solution for a venue, and solution to the situation in Mumbai. We took the flight and met Dr Vijay Patil. Dr Patil and D Y Patil institution, 300 students understood the magnitude of this event and they understood that this is a once in life-time opportunity,” Tournament Director Javier Ceppi told reporters.
“…it’s much more than just holding a World Cup and 23 days. You need somebody with a vision, you need somebody that has capacity to look at the project as a whole. At that time, he (Patil) assured us that he would do everything in his capacity to make the facility ready and to mobilise the project throughout,” he added.
“So, it is our pleasure to ratify Navi Mumbai and the D Y Patil Sports stadium as a venue for the FIFA Under 17 World Cup, Congratulations” Ceppi announced.
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FIFA Project Lead for the U-17 World Cup, Tracy Lou said, “Big congratulations from FIFA for excellent work and good decision from Javier and team in choosing Navi Mumbai as one of the venues for the first ever FIFA Under 17 World Cup in India”.
The basis for the ratification for the Navi Mumbai venue not only focused on the main DY Patil Stadium and the training sites, but also took into account the interest that local authorities took throughout the process.
On Wednesday Kochi became the first Indian city to be officially declared as one of the venues for hosting the U-17 World Cup after it received a green signal from a high-level delegation of football’s world body.
The delegation will now visit Goa on October 22.
“The stadium has completed most of the things that we had asked or were asked. We are extremely happy with the quality of work. This is really a world class facility as it was mentioned in February,” Ceppi said.
“It is a benchmark, it is definitely a benchmark for other Indian stadiums, because the way facility is constructed and the way it is operated is top-class. There are still minor works that will happen, and they are working on the training sites – on two training grounds – one the university ground and the football ground here,” he added.
Vijay Patil, President, D Y Sports Academy said, “I truly believe that this will be a historical moment and a watershed moment for Indian football. We have received support from All India Football Federation, (its) President Praful Patel, Western India Football Association.
“Navi Mumbai Sports Association has been a wonderful partner. Its truly a exciting moment for Indian football and its a tribute to the sporting culture of Navi Mumbai, that we have this opportunity to host this event”.
FIFA officials said there will be 24 teams which will take part in the tournament.