FIFA U-17 World Cup 2017: Vijay Goel, Praful Patel unveil official mascot 'Kheleo'
With just 238 days remaining until the start of the tournament, the official mascot of the FIFA U-17 World Cup India 2017, 'Kheleao' was unveiled at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium
New Delhi: With just 238 days remaining until the start of the tournament, the official mascot of the FIFA U-17 World Cup India 2017, 'Kheleao' was unveiled at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium on Friday.
In a glittering ceremony attended by Sports Minister Vijay Goel, the chairman of the Local Organising Committee and AIFF president Praful Patel, the young and charismatic face of the FIFA U-17 World Cup – a clouded leopard called Kheleo, was introduced to hundreds of football fans.
The clouded leopard is an endangered wild cat whose habitat extends from the Himalayan foothills to mainland Southeast Asia.
To commemorate Kheleo's first public appearance, Sports Minister Goel said, "We are sure that he will be one of the most memorable mascots a sporting event in India has ever seen. Kheleo is young, vibrant, enthusiastic and a perfect representation of our country. He will help us to involve kids with football in a fun way."
Patel termed the official mascot as a major component of the overall event brand that will represent the tournament and the host country.
"Presenting Kheleo as the official mascot to the world is another big step for our event. As the face of the FIFA U-17 World Cup India 2017, he will be going across the country to promote the tournament and to inspire kids and adults alike," the All India Football Federation president said.
Kheleo will participate in numerous activities in the run-up to the first-ever FIFA tournament to be hosted by India, which will be played from 6 to 28 October this year.
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Mumbai City FC, now backed by English Premier League giants Manchester City's City Group, are also of the same opinion and have supported ATK's proposal, well-placed sources in the Indian football fraternity said.
The All India Football Federation has already indicated that Kolkata would host all the I-League matches keeping in mind the COVID-19 pandemic.
The matches will be played at the Ramsee-Dhandu National Stadium in Male. Chennai City have so far played a 2-2 draw against Maziya in their first group match and still have five games left to play.