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PMO sets football rolling

AIFF receives govt’s approval as it hopes to bag rights to host ‘17 FIFA U-17 World Cup

Written by Mihir Vasavda | Mumbai |
May 7, 2013 1:05:29 am

India’s ambitions to host the 2017 Under-17 World Cup received a double boost on Monday with the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) approving the All India Football Federation’s (AIFF) bid and world body FIFA’s vice-president backing it.

The approval from the PMO was processed by the sports ministry and the AIFF will now wait for the clearance from the Cabinet before submitting the bid papers to FIFA.

FIFA had rejected India’s first bid in January this year after it did not receive required assurances from the government. It wanted written guarantees on issues such as security,tax exemptions,foreign exchange inflow,transport and accommodation of players,etc. It is learnt that FIFA also wanted a tax exemption on the earnings of various international stakeholders connected with the event,including its broadcasters and sponsors.

“We’ve received the clearance from the PMO and will now prepare a Cabinet Note for their approval. We’re committed to India getting the hosting rights for the U-17 World Cup and this is a major step in that regard,” sports secretary P K Deb said.

The government has approved all seven venues (New Delhi,Mumbai,Kolkata,Bangalore,Margao,Kochi and Guwahati) proposed by the AIFF to host the matches and has assured of its assistance in the upgradation and refurbishment of the stadiums.

The government’s backing of the AIFF’s bid comes at a crucial time as FIFA has officially invited bids from other interested country to host the event. AIFF general secretary Kushal Das said this was a big step forward for them. “I’m glad that the government is moving fast to get this done. Hosting the U-17 World Cup will be a game-changer for Indian football,” Das said.

He hoped that the Cabinet would clear the bid by the end of this month so that they can table India’s bid during FIFA’s executive committee meeting this month. “If we can speed up the process now and get Cabinet’s approval quickly,then we can table the bid during the meeting this month. Else,we’ll have to wait at least till September,” Das said.

Voice of support

Meanwhile,FIFA vice-president Ali Bin Al-Hussein also threw his weight behind India’s bid. The Jordanian prince said that winning the rights to host the event would help the development of football in the country.

“I support India’s bid to host the 2017 FIFA U-17 World Cup. India is an important country in Asia and a crucial one for growth of the game,” said Al-Hussein,one of FIFA’s eight vice-presidents.

“It is important for them to win the bid for the World Cup because not only will it improve the infrastructure in the country but will also help in increasing the AFC slots for India and other countries,” he said.

Al-Hussein was in the city to inaugurate Kick for Hope,a grassroots initiative run by NGO Magic Bus in collaboration with his project,the Asian Football Development Programme (AFDP). The initiative aims to scout young boys and girls from the weaker sections of the society in order to uplift them through the sport.

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