All India Football Federation president Praful Patel on Saturday expressed his delight at country winning the bid for hosting the FIFA Under-17 Women’s World Cup in 2020, but said the bigger challenge lies ahead.
“I would like to thank FIFA for keeping their trust in us and granting us the rights to host the tournament. I am also grateful to the Government of India and the State Governments for their support and providing us the necessary assurances which made winning this bid a reality,” he said.
This is going to be the second time India will be hosting a FIFA World Cup, three years after organising the U-17 World Cup for boys.
“We felt the football evolution which India attained in the FIFA U-17 World Cup needed to continue, and as part of AIFF’s commitment towards development of women’s football, we decided to bid for the U-17 women’s World Cup,” Patel stated.
“The tournament will be massive as this time it will also galvanise the girls of the country, making it more popular,” he added.
“However, winning the bid was a lesser challenge. The bigger challenge of hosting the showpiece actually lies ahead, especially after the standards which we have set for ourselves in the FIFA U-17 World Cup India 2017,” the AIFF chief said.
General secretary Kushal Das described it as a “historic moment” for Indian football.
“I cannot sum it up in words what this means to Indian football. Together with all stakeholders we need to make it a grand success, and at the same time we understand that we need to be competitive,” Das said.
“For the success of the FIFA U-17 women’s World Cup in 2020, the support of Government of India, Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports, and the State Governments is extremely vital as we have seen in the past with the U-17 World Cup in 2017. This will ensure success of the tournament, and will take it to greater heights.”
The U-17 women’s tournament began in 2008, when New Zealand hosted it. Spain are the current champions and they had beaten Mexico 2-1 in the final in Uruguay last year. The tournament in India will be the seventh edition.
Asian teams are the most successful teams in the tournament, with North Korea (2008 and 2016) having won it twice while Japan (2014) and South Korea (2010) had won it once each.
France (2012) and Spain (2018) are the only non-Asian teams to have won the tournament.