Kochi: The local organising committee (LOC) for the Fifa U-17 World Cup has banished any lingering doubts over Kochi’s readiness for the event, claiming that all major infrastructural works at the venue have been completed.
After reviewing the progress of work at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium and the four training sites in the city here on Thursday, tournament director Javier Ceppi said that the onus was now on the city to “start thinking like a World Cup venue”.
Kochi, one of the six cities for October’s event, had come under fire from Fifa in March for its slow-paced progress and was asked to finish all major works before May 15. The LOC has claimed tremendous development since.
“We see no reason to hold back Kochi and at this point in time we’re happy to say that Kochi is a World Cup venue and that there will be eight matches played here,” said Ceppi. “There are certain things that need to be resolved but we have been given an assurance.”
However, the stadium and training sites are not expected to be 100 per cent ready before the first week of July that is after the draw of the teams is done.
“The draw is on July 7 and delegates of the teams that are drawn for the group matches in Kochi will visit either on July 8 or 9. That is when everything needs to be 100 per cent,” Ceppi said. Meanwhile, the LOC confirmed that it has reduced the stadium’s capacity to 41,748, adhering to the safety standards. “We had to reduce the capacity to maintain the eight-minute emergency evacuation plan that is the international standard so that the stadium can provide safety for the spectators.”
It was also clarified that the lack of direct flights from the city to Kolkata, the venue for the final, was the reason why Kochi was overlooked for a semifinal match. Kochi will host eight out of the total 52 matches in the competition, including a quarterfinal on October 22 and a round-of-16 tie....