The 17th edition of the FIFA U-17 World Cup in India, on Saturday, turned out to be a milestone event as it became the most attended in the history of the tournament. After the third-place match between Brazil and Mali at Kolkata, the total number of spectators who turned up at the six host venues went past the earlier record attendance of 1,230,976 set in the first edition of the tournament in China in 1985.
With 56,432 spectators turning up at the Salt Lake Stadium to watch the Brazil versus Mali match, the total attendance of the Fifa U-17 World Cup reached 1,280,459. Before this match, a mere 6,949 attendance was needed to break the record. The 2011 edition in Mexico had also attracted a total of 1,002,314 spectators, becoming the third one to record an attendance of more than one million.
The attendance for matches had breached the million mark in the last Round of 16 match on October 18. In terms of the number of spectators per match, this edition is second behind the inaugural edition in China (which was 38,469) as the number of participating teams and matches were lesser at that time.
Sixteen teams competed till the 2005 edition in Peru (when the tournament was known as
Fifa U-17 World Championships) before the number of participating countries was increased to 24 from the 2007 edition in South Korea. The number of matches was also increased from 32 to 52 from 2007 onwards.
Understandably, Kolkata’s Salt Lake Stadium has the highest attendance per match. The venue has so far logged a total of 5,42,125 spectators from 10 games, at a staggering average of 54,212 per match. The stadium has a total capacity of 66,600.