FIFA for using govt funds marked for U17 WC opening ceremony for sports development

NEW DELHI: World football world governing body FIFA would rather have the Indian government spend on the development of the sport instead of a lavish opening ceremony for the Under-17 World Cup it will host next month.

The Sports Ministry had planned an opening ceremony either on October 5, a day before the start of the tournament, or on October 6, hours before the kick-off. However, FIFA’s head of Tournaments Jaime Yarza told PTI, "To be in line with previous tournaments, and in the best interest of the sport, we believe that the main focus should remain on football and the players, and that the investment necessary for an opening ceremony is better deployed in the youth and in football development of the country - even more so now with the AIFF’s ambitious plans to lay solid foundations for India’s footballing future.”

A FIFA team will fly down to India two weeks before the start of the tournament to visit the venues and make sure that all arrangements are in accordance with the requirements of the teams and the marketing partners.

Yarza said the preparations of the U-17 World Cup have been progressing as per schedule and FIFA was confident that the prestigious tournament will be a success. “Our partners in place, the Local Organising Committee and the AIFF, have confirmed that the preparations are going according to the plans laid together with them. We are very confident that this trend will continue and that India’s first FIFA tournament will be a resounding success. It’s now time to implement the second stage of the overlay programme in close cooperation with the LOC and the Government of India.”

The Under-17 World Cup is the first ever FIFA event India is hosting, and will be played in six cities — New Delhi, Navi Mumbai, Kolkata, Guwahati, Kochi and Margao — from October 6 to 28.