Kolkata: All India Football Federation President Praful Patel expressed his “delight and satisfaction at AIFF’s dream project - the FIFA U-17 World Cup India 2017 being an astounding success.”
“In terms of organisation, the infrastructure, the attendance and conduct of the games is a reflection of the fact that India has arrived at the World stage,” Patel, also the Chairman of the Local Organising Committee stated at a press meet in Kolkata.
“This success only points out that if we can host the U-17 World Cup we are ready for other FIFA tournaments as well. I need to thank the Government of India, the respective state governments and FIFA.
“Besides giving us the confidence that we are capable to host such a World Cup, it also gives us an understanding that we can actually build a world-class Indian team with our boys,” Patel added.
“The World Cup has caught the imagination of the kids and youngsters and you can gauge it by the attendance in the stands. There have also been a huge number of ladies who have turned up for the matches.
"We have invested much into our Grassroots Development Programme and will continue to attract the kids to the game,” Patel, sporting an U-17 World Cup shirt maintained.
“The semi-final was shifted from Guwahati overnight and we had a huge number of people trying online to get a ticket for the semi-final in Kolkata. It’s a reflection of how people in India are rooting for football.”
Over 63,000 fans flocked to watch the semi-final between Brazil and England at the Yuva Bharati Krirangan in Kolkata.
“The fans need to be applauded. I can say with a great deal of satisfaction that this edition of the U-17 World Cup will be the most watched U-17 ever; in fact, the attendance registered is all set to break all records of the FIFA U-20 World Cup.”
Patel also praised the efforts put in by the Local Organising Committee.
“The LOC under the leadership of Mr. Javier Ceppi have done a commendable job and have displayed the ability to respond to any situation,” he said.
FIFA Head of Competitions Jamie Yarza thanked All India Football Federation, the respective State Governments, the LOC and the volunteers for their support.
“The organisational capabilities of the Indian people has been fantastic. The response has been overwhelming and I can tell you some of the teams were sad that they had to actually leave India rather than losing.
“We have also bid to host the FIFA U-20 World Cup in 2019. I have been invited by the FIFA President to address the FIFA Executive council. I will use all the goodwill which is at our command to make forward India’s case at the Council,” he said.
“For Indian football’s future growth, the geography of Indian football needs to expand,” Patel said. “Today there are teams from North India, South India, North East and we are looking forward to having a team from Central India in our I-League,” he said.
Sources: FIFA/Getty Images, All India Football Federation