India won the hosting rights for the 2017 U-17 World Cup beating off competition from Uzbekistan, South Africa and Azerbaijan. Dr.Shaji Prabhakaran, FIFA’s development officer for central and south Asia under whose jurisdiction both India and Uzbekistan fall under, believes that India can now embark on the road to progress with a goal in mind.
“It is a good move and is a historical day for India. For me, it is the biggest ever India will ever host in terms of world football. It is one of the great achievements. The best thing is that India can now focus on this with a concrete development plan with a goal. It will galvanize all stakeholders for a very concentrated football development. I’m sure that India will put up a very good show,” he told Goal.
Prabhakaran also took time to highlight the efforts of Praful Patel and Kushal Das, president and general secretary of the All India Football Federation (AIFF) respectively, for their effort is securing the hosting rights. He also denied that the agreement signed by FIFA and the AIFF which would aid the ltter with regards to management strategy, technical development and the strengthening of clubs and the championship, had nothing to do with hosting the U-17 World Cup.
“I think the government needs to be thanked because they have given all the guarantees. Mr.Praful Patel has really worked hard to cut down the processes to get this document in place on time. The AIFF has worked very hard. Kushal, I know spent a lot of time in the ministry meeting each and every official there on a daily basis. At last Mr.Patel played his role as a minister and got the document ready.
“From FIFA’s end, we wanted India to bid it as it will help to achieve its potential through this World Cup. It fitted well with the development plan. It was not part of any agreement signed. FIFA guided the AIFF as they understood that this event would help set the development plans in place and achieve something concrete in the country.”
Prabhakaran isn’t sure in what capacity he would be involved in this project but mentioned that the AIFF and FIFA would finally pin down on six venues for the tournament after a thorough inspection is done.
“In the next few months, I would know what would be my role. I cannot say anything now as yet.
“Ultimately it will be the AIFF and a team from FIFA which will be coming to inspect and finalise the venues.”
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