Will Bangalore be chosen as one of the host cities for the 2017 FIFA Under-17 Football World Cup? A recent inspection by a team from FIFA indicated that it is not yet a done deal
The three-member FIFA delegation visited the facilities which will be used for the mega event, and their assessment revealed a few concerns. While this is certainly not cause for panic, it does call for quick corrective action. “I saw some positive things, but all venues require more work,” says FIFA's Director of Competition Inaki Alvarez, after a recce of the stadiums. “The World Cup will ensure development of football in India, but the gains should not just stop with this tournament. It must continue on in order to enable overall development of the sport,” he added.
Bangalore is one of eight Indian cities in the race to host matches. Only six will make the cut, and the decision will be made based on the quality of stadium infrastructure, hotels and training facilities available in each city.
FIFA and the AIFF will announce its final listof host cities early next year. The Bangalore Football Stadium (opposite Garuda Mall) has been marked as the city's primary venue.
The Sree Kanteerava Stadium has been slotted as the secondary venue (in case matches need to be shifted due to unforeseen circumstances), while the HAL Grounds will serve as the primary training venue. Alvarez, accompanied by Vijay Parthasarathy (FIFA Competition Manager), Shaji Prabhakaran (FIFA Development Officer for Asia) and Anil Kamath (AIFF Competitions Assistant General Secretary) visited all three facilities a few days ago.
The Bangalore Football Stadium (BFS) is set to undergo a complete makeover.
The reconstruction will be undertaken by Jindal Steel Works (JSW), which owns I-League club Bengaluru FC. This was agreed upon by JSW and AIFF before the launch of the club last year.
Mustafa Ghouse, the CEO of Bengaluru FC, stated that work on the stadium will begin once the 2013-14 season ends.
“The reconstruction -this includes replacing the artificial turf with natural turf – will be completed in around two years,” Ghouse said.
The primary venue is sure to come under greater scrutiny, but the secondary venue is required to meet high standards as well.
Vikash Kumar Vikash, the Director of the Department of Youth Services and Sports (DYES), stated that if Bangalore is confirmed as a host, the "Sree Kanteerava Stadium will be made ready".
The authorities at the HAL ground share a similar view. J. Suresh Babu, the HAL General Secretary (Sports), said: “It will be an honour for us to be part of such a prestigious event. If FIFA and the AIFF needs us to improve our infrastructure, I will take it up with the HAL management,” Babu said.
Karnataka State Football Association President A.R. Khaleel, meanwhile, had little doubt about Bangalore's chances. “We are sure to be chosen,” he said.