The fifth International Convention on Football Business, Goal 2018, was held at the Federation House in New Delhi on Tuesday.
Organised by FICCI (Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry) in collaboration with the AIFF (All India Football Federation), the conclave focused on the challenges faced by the sports industry, mainly football, along with formulating strategies to overcome these barriers.
The conclave saw various panel discussions being held where captains of the industry, sportspersons and sports administrators gave their views and opinions on the current scenario of Indian football.
One such discussion was centered around the legacy of the 2017 FIFA U-17 World Cup held in India.
Tournament director of the prestigious event, Javier Ceppi, participated in the discussion and some of his observations could be an eye opener for football administrators and organizers in the country.
While Ceppi agreed that the global tournament had brought a lot of exposure to Indian football, there were many shortcomings which need to be addressed.
Ceppi said that not enough had been done to enhance the experience for the fans during the tournament.
When asked to comment on whether the World Cup had been a success, he said, “Everyone says that the tournament was a success but our (FIFA) internal analysis says that it could have been better.”
"The World Cup was not a success for the fans."
Ceppi further elaborated by mentioning that in some events in India, the players have had to change in the dressing room with a few rats for company and bemoaned the lack of care afforded to fans and players in India.
"Nobody here cares about the fan, neither the players. There have been tournaments in India (not the World Cup Under-17) where players were forced to change in the dressing room with rats. I have seen such photos."
While the tournament had been lauded as a major success by fans and administrators alike upon its culmination, Ceppi said that a lack of previous examples to compare against had clouded the judgment of the former.
“The fans over here (India) were seeing such an event for the first time in their life. They have no (previous) basis to compare it to so they have only good things to say,” he remarked.
The tournament director added that the World Cup had been a challenge about improving India’s image with regard to its ability to host such major events.
After having had multiple controversies mar its hosting of the Commonwealth Games in 2010, Ceppi said it had been very important for the country to get it right while staging its first ever World Cup.
Ceppi also spoke about the improved infrastructure which had been the legacy of the tournament and urged football administrators in the country to make the best use of it in the present and the future.
“You have 26 world class training pitches now in the country, four of them in Delhi itself. So a lack of infrastructure cannot be used as an excuse anymore,” he said.