Kolkata: The 13-member FIFA delegation along with members of the Local Organising Committee (LOC) ratified Kolkata`s Salt Lake Stadium as one of the venues for next year`s FIFA U-17 World Cup, here on Tuesday.
The dates of the showpiece event were also announced, which is from October 6 to 28. The draw is on July 7, 2017.
The FIFA delegation visited the site and had a comprehensive look at both the stadium and the training facilities.
Joy Bhattacharjya, project director, said: “We first came here two years before to see the stadium. The amount of work that has gone into it has been staggering. I am confident the stadum will look 30 years younger during the time of the event,”
“I grew up here watching fotball. It gives me immense pleasure to say that Kolkata is ratified as venue for the World Cup.”
Event manager for the U-17 World Cup, Marion Mayer Vorfelder remarked: “We have been here only for 24 hours and we can see how deeply rooted football is in this area.
“I have heard it`s rich history here and that the stadium can host more than 100,000 spectators. a massive amount of work has gone into the stadium. It`s impressive since our last inspection (in February) hence the ratification.
“This stadium has the potential to be one of best in the country and can also be compete internationally.”
State sports minister Arup Biswas, said: “We are grateful to FIFA for selecting Kolkata as the venue for the U-17 World Cup. We are making every effort to make it a grand success.”
Biswas added that January 31 is the deadline to complete all the remaining work.
“70 to 80 percent work has been done. By January 31 next year it should be 100 percent ready.”
FIFA will inspect for one final time between February-March, 2017.
Asked if Kolkata, as the rumour mill says, will host the final, Tournament Director of the LOC, Javier Ceppi said: “The question keeps coming to me. Before we can announce about the final, all the work has to be completed. we are extremely satisfied with the work that has been done here. Monsoon has been severe here so has been summer. I understand wether constraints. After January 31, we will make an assessment about whether a final or a key match can be played here.”
Kolkata became the sixth and final venue to be okayed for the U-17 World Cup post Kochi, Navi Mumbai, Goa, New Delhi and Guwahati.
Member LOC and All India Football Federation (AIFF) vice-president Subrata Dutta, said: “I must admit its overwhelming. I convery my gratefulness to the Chief Minister who was the first person to sign the guarantee papers for the World Cup.”
Ceppi, in his concluding note after finishing inspection of all six venues, said, “It`s been a lengthly process to get here. It took us two years. Now we can say we have the six venues.
“We also have the dates of the World Cup. We are grateful to FIFA for their support and that the tournament is now a reality.”
State principal secretary, sports S.A. Baba was also present along with minister of state for sports and former India cricketer Laxmi Ratan Shukla.