Kolkata: FIFA Under-17 World Cup tournament director Javier Ceppi on Sunday said the event has been more successful than the ICC World Cup 2011 in terms of spectator turnout, adding the "doors are now open" for India to get next edition's U-20 World Cup.
Taking a 36-match cut-off after the end of group stage, Ceppi said the spectator count has crossed a phenomenal 800,000, which is more than the 2011 Cricket World Cup, and double than what the last edition in Chile had witnessed.
"This was a make or break. If you're not able to deliver, then the doors would have closed definitely. Now the doors remain open. How it's done in the future we need to see. Possibility will be there for Indian football," Ceppi said about India's bid for hosting the FIFA U-20 World Cup in 2019.
"At this point of time, we are looking at a record attendance here in India 2017. It's also over with the first 36 matches of the ICC World Cup 2011 which is usually considered here as the gold standard for a World Cup in terms of attendance," Ceppi told reporters in Kolkata on Tuesday.
There has been a frenzy around the sport since the tournament kicked off.
"We feel that really football has taken over. That's the reality. People are coming here; we have seen (the) enthusiasm of people that we did not foresee. We had an average crowd of 49,000 for India matches. It's huge."
Ceppi said there has been an unprecedented demand for tickets for the final from various state governments that speaks volumes of the success and it augurs well for India, who have formally submitted a bid to host the next U-20 World Cup.
"The outcome of India hosting further high-level football events is positive. People have realised now. You do not know how many calls I've received from abroad from friends and football fans saying, 'it looks fantastic at least on TV'.
"It shows that the amount of noise that people are making, the enthusiasm the quality of football has sent out a positive message."
"We needed to first focus on delivering this one. If we could not deliver this one then definitely the doors will be closed."
The Salt Lake Stadium, which has a capacity of 66,687, will host the final on 28 October and tickets have been sold out well in advance.
"For the final, even I don't have a ticket. The craze the final has generated is amazing. My phone has not stopped ringing, with requests from strange quarters that has nothing to do with the World Cup that they want passes for the final. And that's a great problem to have.
"We were told that we have not done enough marketing but what better marketing than having on an average getting 23,000 people, having more people than the ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 at this stage?" he asked.
"It feels like a senior World Cup to me in terms of enthusiasm, passion and sheer numbers. It's commendable," he summed up the mood.
Apart from the six cities that are hosting the World Cup, India have infrastructure coming up in Ahmedabad, Bengaluru, Chennai, Bhubaneswar and Thiruvananthapuram and Ceppi said it would help in spreading out a global event like a World Cup.
"Should India bid to host other events, there would be options apart from the cities that has (sic) hosted. At the end of the day you would like the touranment to spread out.
"For the nation, if it wants to bid for an Under-20 World Cup or for other World Cups I feel the other facilities that are coming up in the country that would be in a good position to be the frontrunners."
Head of coaching, player development and technical study group, Branimir Ujevic, summed up the mood.
"I would say it's easy to get a ticket of El Clasico than a final game of the U-17 World Cup in Kolkata at the moment.
Updated Date: Oct 15, 2017 19:31:09 IST