COSTA DO SAUIPE, (AFP) – FIFA president Sepp Blatter confirmed Thursday that India will host the Under-17 World Cup in 2017.
Eight venues have been shortlisted to be pared down to six — Goa, Pune, Mumbai, Bangalore, Cochin, Kolkata, Delhi and Guwahati.
The news was greeted with elation among Indian officials
“This is historic, this is what we have been waiting for,” said Praful Patel, president of the All India Football Federation (AIFF).
“FIFA has been extremely supportive of All India Football Federation’s ambitions and taking Indian Football to the world level,” said Patel.
“Both FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter and FIFA Secretary General Mr Jerome Valcke have always been huge supporters of Indian Football.”
Patel also thanked the Indian government for providing “the necessary guarantees” and told the AIFF website the move could revolutionise the game on the Indian sub-continent.
“Hosting a tournament of such a stature will also help galvanise the face of Indian Football among the masses and youth of the country.
“At the moment, football is popular in certain pockets in India. With the U-17 World Cup taking place, I strongly believe that the popularity will swell overnight and the mission of making football a pan-India sport will be realised,” Patel said.
AIFF general secretary Kushal Das added: “I cannot sum it up in words what this means to Indian Football,” as he expressed gratitude to the government, FIFA and Patel.
In all, 24 teams will take part.
China hosted the first U-17 event in 1985.
Nigeria’s Golden Eaglets are defending champions after winning the last event in the United Arab Emirates last month
Chile will be the next hosts in 2015.