AIFFs bid to host the Nehru Cup-Indias premier international football tournament-might have a deterrent in the Independence Day celebrations. Even as the football body continues to put in efforts to spruce up the Ambedkar Stadium to match international standards,the venue is simultaneously gearing up to host Delhi governments 15th August festivities,threatening to affect the texture of the turf that will host the six-team tourney from August 18.
Incidentally,the Chhatrasal Stadium used to be the first-choice venue for the Independence Day events but has been unavailable due to renovation for the Commonwealth Games since 2008. The work on covering the stands temporarily has already begun even as the AIFF insisted that it was trying its best to get the event shifted out.
We had requested the state government to get the Independence Day celebrations shifted. Negotiations are still on but they are insisting theres no option because the Chhatrasal Stadium,which used to host the event,is currently unavailable for renovation,and theres no other available space, an AIFF official said,adding that they will ensure proper precautions would be taken to minimize the damage on the turf.
We had to bear with it last year also and there was even shorter time to work as the tournament started on August 17.The playing area perfectly matched the international standards. This year we have suggested the organizers a few alternatives like using coasters to demarcate areas instead of drawing lines so as to avoid any direct tinkering with the turf, he said.
After about a-month-and-a-halfs rest,the grass on the Ambedkar Stadium turf has replenished,and the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) horticulture department feared any activity in the second week of August will affect the quality of the ground going into the tournament. We will try our best but the 15th August celebrations will certainly harm the texture of the field. More importantly,three days time wouldnt be adequate for us to rework the patches, an MCD horticulture department official said.
The MCD,which owns the Ambedkar Stadium,called it a temporary arrangement that was made after all considerations including the safety and accessibility of the football venue. The MCD has the right to take a call in whatever happens at the Ambedkar Stadium. The state governments August 15 celebrations are here as a temporary arrangement in the absence of the Chaatrasal Stadium, Deep Mathur,director of Press and Information,MCD,said.
The organizers of the football tournament were well aware of the fact. Looking at some specific issues like security,accessibility and location,we have picked the Ambedkar Stadium as the venue. Well ensure minimal interference with the turf keeping in mind the international event and at the same time hope to conduct the festivities in good spirit, Mathur added.