The planning and infrastructure was on point in New Delhi three years back for the FIFA U-17 World Cup. The air pollution, however, proved to be a problem. There were concerns over playing an international tournament under such conditions and they were not misplaced. The PM 2.5 level was 17-times over the permissible limit considered safe by the World Health Organization and over four-times India's own standards. Scheduling was done keeping this in mind and no matches were set for the capital following Diwali. In the end, Delhi hosted eight matches without any of them being moved.
For the 2020 edition of U-17 Women's World Cup, FIFA has not allotted any matches to the capital city due to pollution concerns. The tournament will be played in five cities, more than usual four and two more than previous edition in Uruguay. The 20-day tournament, starting on 2 November, will be played in Ahmedabad, Bhubaneswar, Guwahati, Kolkata and Navi Mumbai. DY Patil Stadium in Navi Mumbai will play host to the final. The 16-team tournament will see 24 group stage matches and eight knockout fixtures.
"Delhi hosted the U-17 World Cup in 2017. We did consider a lot of factors. For example, pollution was one of the things we considered because of the health and safety of the teams and the players. So, we looked at other cities for that reason. Also we focused on Kolkata, Mumbai, which are the capital of football in India, where football is very popular. We had to make tough decisions. With Delhi hosting in 2017, we decided to go with two new cities," said FIFA Head of Youth Tournaments Roberto Grassi on Tuesday with the venues and dates being announced.
The 2017 tournament for the boys was played in Delhi, Navi Mumbai, Goa, Kochi, Guwahati and Kolkata. This time, Ahmedabad and Bhubaneswar have entered the fray with Delhi, Goa, Kochi all not making the cut. All five venues for the women's tournament were inspected in November-December for their suitability to host such an event.
It’s time for the girls! The match schedule for the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup India 2020 is out. Guwahati to kick off the tournament on the 2nd November and Navi Mumbai will host the finals for this year’s edition. #U17WWC pic.twitter.com/ZSJf7NwXEy
— Indian Football Team (@IndianFootball) February 18, 2020
"Usually we go with four (cities) traditionally, lately we have been also reducing the venues. If you take the last edition of the U-17 Women's World Cup, we had three stadiums in Uruguay. Whenever we evaluate a tournament, we look at the size of the country and the development needed. In India, even if we wanted to go small, we couldn't. So we had to do something different and we came up with this solution," said Grassi.
It's time to Kick Off The Dream!
The 5⃣ host cities and match schedule have just been unveiled for November's #U17WWC in India
— FIFA Women's World Cup (@FIFAWWC) February 18, 2020
Up until last year, Guwahati wasn't one of the leading cities but Goa was. The FIFA delegation visited Goa but opted against naming it as a host. "First of all, we looked at the sporting facilities and infrastructure available. We looked at the commitment from the stakeholders in all the cities. Then we had to make some thoughts around the connectivity between cities, look at places where football is already popular because one of the goals of the event is to maximise attendance, to be inclusive to have as many people (attending) as possible and participating in the tournament."
"So there are multiple factors that we obviously took in consideration. When selecting the venues there is logistics, availability of infrastructure, there is also the popularity of football. So, if you see we have selected regions where football is growing, where the best indian football players are from. So, we try to balance all these things when selecting the venues. We rely heavily on the support from the government, the Federation and the local authorities which in these cities was fantastic. Obviously, we cannot have the tournament in 10 cities so we ended up with this mix which we believe is going to be optimal for the tournament this year," he stated.
Group-stage matches will be played in four cities (Ahmedabad, Bhubaneswar, Guwahati and Kolkata), with the knockout stages also taking place in four cities (Ahmedabad, Bhubaneswar, Kolkata and Navi Mumbai).
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Updated Date: Feb 18, 2020 21:10:10 IST