The Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Kochi on Wednesday became the first Indian city to be officially declared as one of the venues for hosting the 2017 FIFA Under-17 World Cup after it received a green signal from a high-level delegation of football's world body.
After visiting the stadium, a 23-member high-level delegation comprising experts from FIFA and Local Organising Committee (LOC) ratified Kochi as the venue for next year's mega event.
"Based on what we have seen and based on all the works we have done with the Government of Kerala, with the Kerala Football Association, with all the different stakeholders here in Kochi, we are extremely pleased to announce that Kochi has been ratified as a venue for FIFA U-17 World Cup. Congratulations!" announced Tournament Director of the LOC, Javier Ceppi at a press conference in Kochi.
He said the decision to ratify Kochi as venue has been taken after discussing it with all the stakeholders.
"There are a few things that need to be completed, few things that need to be done. We would keep monitoring closely, would closely work with the Government of Kerala to make sure that all the readiness is there and all the compliance is there for the World Cup," Ceppi said.
The Tournament Director said a lot of work has been put in areas people generally don't see.
"From sewage facilities to toilets, it's all been taken care of really well and that for me is very commendable. The state government now needs to focus on finishing the work at the stadium and especially the training sites within very tight deadlines, but overall it is commendable how the venue has shaped up," he said.
Tracy Lu, Project Lead FIFA Under-17 World Cup India 2017, said the preparations at one of the footballing hotbeds of India is fit for this stature.
"We are extremely happy with the progress we see here; from our last inspection a lot of development already taking place and that's extremely encouraging. The dressing rooms, for instances have been renovated and a lot of other construction work has been initiated. I believe thus that it would make for a terrific World Cup venue," Lu said.
Besides Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, the team also visited the prospective training grounds in Kochi -- Parade Ground, Fort Kochi Veli Football Ground, Maharajas College Ground and Government Boys High School Panampilly Nagar.
"The onus is now on the state Government to complete all works on those sites before end of March 2017," the delegation said.
The delegation will visit the DY Patil stadium in Navi Mumbai on Friday.
Image: The Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Kochi.
Photograph courtesy: AIFF