New Delhi: The world football governing body FIFA's inspection team is satisfied with the planning aspect of India's preparations for next year's Under-17 World Cup but said that major renovation works need to be done in most of the six stadia to be compliant with international standards.
The team led by FIFA head of events Jaime Yarza said that the state and central governments, and the football federation will have to start construction work immediately if the stadia are to be ready by October deadline.
"I must say that the FIFA delegation is satisfied with the planning of the U-17 FIFA World Cup. The AIFF, the local organising committee and governments have done a very good job as far as planning is concerned. We are 80 per cent satisfied with the planning of the tournament," Yarza said at a press conference here.
"But we need amendments in the ground plan and all the six stadiums need major renovations. October is the deadline for the stadiums to comply with standards required for hosting a World Cup match. The state and central governments and local organising committee will need to start the construction work immediately," he added.
"We still have time but October is not far away and all the stakeholders will really need to start work. Now is the time to start working on the implementation of the plans."
The FIFA team has been in India since February 14 and had inspected stadiums in Kochi, Goa, Mumbai, Kolkata, Guwahati before coming here. The team inspected the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium here.
Yarza didn't divulge the major renovations needed in the six stadia but talked about two aspects -- dressing room, and safety & evacuation of spectators -- when asked specifically.
"I cannot tell all these before I submit the report to the local organising committee in a few days. But the dressing rooms in all the stadiums are not enough and they are small in size also. Each stadium must have four dressing rooms and they need to construct new dressing rooms," he said.
On being asked if the stadia comply security standards for hosting a World Cup match, Yarza said they need to make changes on this aspect also though there were no major issues.
"We have not come with a security expert. A security inspection will be done later. But we have to look into the safety and evacuation of fans, like how long will it take for the fans to be evacuated from the main gate.
"As of now we don't see any major issues but there are work to be done in this aspect also," Yarza said.
He said that the D Y Patil Stadium in Mumbai has been the best of the lot. .
"The D Y Patil Stadium in Mumbai has high quality and the other five can also become fantastic stadiums to host World Cup matches if they implement the changes required," he said.
Regarding the JLN Stadium, Yarza said, "It is a very good building but just like other stadiums it also needs changes."
Tournament Director Jevier Ceppi said that the six stadiums inspected by the FIFA team are not yet confirmed to host the U-17 FIFA World Cup.
"We have the back up. I have inspected so many stadiums in this country like in Pune, Chennai or Ahmedabad and they can fill in if any of the six stadiums fail to comply with FIFA standards by October.
"These six stadiums inspected by the FIFA team are not yet confirmed or ratified," he added.
Yarza said though the final inspection by a FIFA team will only be done in October, the local organising committee will monitor how each of these six stadia is implementing the changes required and will report to the FIFA to see if a new venue will be required to be added.
"The local organising committee will monitor the construction work at the six stadiums and they will raise the red flag if there are any deficiencies in the work carried out and decide if a new venue needs to be pressed as replacement."
Asked about the training pitches required in each host city, Yarza said, "We need four training pitches in each venue, one each for the four teams in a group. We have less of problems in case of training pitches than of the main stadium."
Ceppi chipped in to say that the deadline for readying the training pitches will be next year prior to Indian monsoon.
"The deadline in case of training pitches will be next year before the monsoon starts. During monsoon, nobody will use the pitches. We will need to maintain these pitches during monsoon," he said.
Ceppi said that Kolkata's Salt Lake is likely to host the final match though it is yet to be finalised.
"First of all, all the six venues are yet to be confirmed and ratified to host the matches and so Kolkata hosting the final match is also yet to be confirmed," said Ceppi.
"We have to see two aspects -- readiness and willingness.
We know Kolkata is a traditional stronghold of football and then Salt Lake is a huge stadium and we want a large number of people watching the final match.
"We know the attendance is huge in Kolkata in the ISL and local I-League derby whereas this stadium (JLN in New Delhi) has an average of just 10,000 during the ISL. So, Kolkata may get to host the final match but as I said no venue is confirmed as of now."