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Rediff.com  » Sports » 'Under-17 football World Cup can be most attended sports event in India'

'Under-17 football World Cup can be most attended sports event in India'

By Laxmi Negi
May 29, 2015 21:28 IST
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Javier Ceppi, Tournament Director of the 2017 Under-17 football World Cup, which India will host, says the success of the event depends on the country’s fans. Laxmi Negi reports.

Javier SepiiThe ‘beautiful game’ is in murky waters, but what better way to showcase that it is bigger than any individual.

At a media conference in Mumbai on Friday the stage was set for the announcement of host cities for the FIFA Under-17 World Cup, which India will host in September-October 2017. Journalists prepared themselves to give the ‘FIFA guy’ a tough time.

However, the event started with a video showing Spain’s Iker Casillas and Brazil’s Neymar, followed by Argentina’s Carlos Tavez doing what he does best -- scoring goals.

The three-minute video featured other footballing greats, like Cesc Fabregas, Gianluigi Buffon, Xavi, Ronaldinho, Francesco Totti, Fernando Torres, Adriano, Landon Donovan, Kanu, Toni Kroos, all playing for their country in a FIFA Under-17 World Cup.

Immediately, FIFA’s most recent scandal and Sepp Blatter, its 79-year-old boss who is in the news for all the wrong reasons, were soon forgotten.

As Blatter’s fate was being decided in Zurich, in Mumbai eager journalists wanted to quiz Javier Ceppi, the Tournament Director of the 2017 Under-17 World Cup on the corruption scandal that has engulfed the sport. However, all attempts were futile as Cepii took charge of the situation, sticking to what the conference was called for.

“World Cup doesn’t come to a country often. It took 87 years for India to get it, so let us concentrate on it,” he declared.

From then on, the house belonged to him.

“For now, Guwahati, Kochi, Navi Mumbai and Kolkata are provincially selected as the host cities. Other states and cities, like Goa, New Delhi, Chennai, Bengaluru and Pune, have little time to catch up to get their house in order. Two from among this five-strong list would be given provisional approval in the near future, he said, adding "A FIFA inspection team would visit India in September 2016 to ratify the venues (after looking into the compliance part).”

The Chilean even attempted to sell India the dream of hosting the senior World Cup.

“Mexico hosted the 2011 under-17 World Cup and they will bid for 2026 World Cup; UAE hosted the Under-17 World Cup in 2013 and it was like a warm-up for the gulf to host the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. 2015, Chile is hosting and they will look forward to host the senior World Cup in 2030. And India is hosting the 2017 Under-17 tournament and it will allow India to host the senior World Cup, but not so distant date. It is like a gradual step to bid for the trophy tournament,” he said.

Only a few months in India, Cepii, who is based in Delhi, seems to have done his homework well.

He added, “If we fill all the stadiums during the Under-17 World Cup, it will not only become the most attended youth sporting event but also the most attended sports event in India. It will also beat the ICC’s World Cup record in 2011, any season of IPL, ISL or Pro Kabaddi, Asian Games and 2010 Commonwealth Games record. I know Indians are obsessed with records and we can definitely hope to get this target for the Under-17 World Cup.”

Also read: FIFA shortlists six venues for U-17 football World Cup in India

Image: Javier Cepii, Tournament Director of the 2017 Under-17 football World Cup, addresses the media in Mumbai.

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Laxmi Negi / Rediff.com

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