FIFA Head of Tournaments, Jaime Yarza expressed concern over preparations at Kochi, which has been chosen as one of the venues for the FIFA U-17 World Cup in October, a release said. Yarza urged the Kerala state government to speed up the process with May 15 sounded out as the deadline date.
Delhi and Goa haven’t had the best of reviews so far with Navi Mumbai, Guwahati and Kolkata yet to be inspected but Kochi is by far the venue about which the Inspection Committee has been the most critical.
“I was here last February and, to be honest, while some work has happened, it’s by far not enough, which is a matter of deep concern. The State Government must get involved, give us an unrestricted support and get the urgency of the situation, because there are a lot of changes that need to be made to the stadium. The works need to be done by 15th May and given the large amount of renovation that must happen, works have to go on full speed,” Yarza said.
The release added that a team of 21 members of FIFA and the Local Organising Committee inspected the Kochi stadium for the FIFA U-17 World Cup, which begins in October, “The situation of the stores is quite concerning: from a security standpoint they cannot be opened during the Tournament. There are stores with fuel tanks, which is a grave safety and security concern, so their equipment also need to be taken out. Overall, work needs to happen, and State Government needs to make them happen fast,” Yazra added.
Tournament Director of the LOC, Javier Ceppi said: “Over the past month, there has been a decent amount of work that has been done in Kochi.”
“Unfortunately, it is a well-known fact that almost no work could happen last year while ISL was happening and that has had an impact on the renovation timelines for the JNI Stadium, which is lost time that we need to recover fast. We are confident that the state government will honour its commitment and that pending infrastructure work will be completed as soon as possible”.
Ceppi, though, acknowledged the passion of the football-mad public in Kochi, who provide an enthralling spectacle during the Indian Super League, “The enthusiasm that we have seen from football fans in Kerala about hosting the event is remarkable and we hope that they all turn up for the World Cup matches in October.”