After hosting the under-17 World Cup for men last year, the All India Football Federation (AIFF) has set its sights on bidding for the women’s edition for the same age-group. The AIFF president Praful Patel met sports secretary Rahul Bhatnagar here on Tuesday to seek the government’s support to host the 2020 women’s under-17 World Cup.
AIFF general secretary Kushal Das said they have already put in their expression of interest with FIFA earlier this year and by the end of this month, they have to give ‘certain guarantees’ to FIFA, which includes government’s support. “We want to bid for the under-17 women’s world cup and wanted to understand the procedure. The government had come out with some guidelines in January 2018 so we will send them a letter accordingly,” Das said, adding that the government’s response has been ‘positive’.
The men’s tournament comprised 24 teams and was played at six venues. The government spent more than Rs 100 crore in upgrading the infrastructure and build training facilities. The women’s under-17 World Cup, however, has 16 nations and Das said they can host matches at ‘just four cities’. Like the men’s under-17 World Cup, the women’s edition, too, has to be held in October and November.
“We can host the matches at the cities where the tournament was held last year. It shouldn’t be a problem for us because we have training grounds and everything. The infrastructure cost will be minimal and since the number of teams are fewer, we can host it in just four cities,” Das said.
The AIFF has to submit the complete bid by January. However, they have to furnish certain guarantees, including the government’s support, by the end of this month. “The government want us to send a detailed proposal and then we will see how they look at it. It seems a positive meeting,” Das said.
The under-17 World Cup, held last October, was the first major international tournament India hosted. FIFA president Gianni Infantino called it a ‘resounding success’ and even though the Indian team did not win any match, their performances drew appreciation from several quarters.
Unlike the men’s game, though, women’s football barely has any age-group tournaments domestically and the pool of players is shallow. The women’s national team, too, is largely inactive. Das said the under-17 World Cup can act as a catalyst to develop women’s football. “This will give a great boost to women’s football,” he said.