Government gives green signal for 2017 FIFA U-17 World Cup

New Delhi, June 13 (IANS) The government Thursday finally paved way for the All India Football Federation (AIFF) to bid to host the 2017 FIFA U-17 World Cup as the union cabinet cleared the proposal for submitting guarantees to the world body FIFA.

FIFA, which had agreed in the principle to award the tournament to India, had earlier rejected the bid since the government didn't give specific guarantees.

But now with the government finally giving the green signal, the AIFF will be submitting its formal bid to FIFA very soon. The final decision is expected to be taken by the FIFA executive committee that meets in September.

The football tournament is a prestigious event and would be held in India for the first time, if the AIFF succeeds in its bid.

"While the expenditure for upgradation of stadia (Rs.95 crore) will be provided as additional central assistance to the state governments, a sum of Rs.25 crore is kept as a contingency to ensure smooth conduct of the tournament," said an official statement.

AIFF and football's world governing body FIFA have agreed to bear the entire expenditure of hosting the tournament. The amounts required are to be raised through sponsorships and other commercial agreements.

The proposed U-17 World Cup would encourage more youngsters to participate in sports and also help develop football in the country. It will also promote tourism, the statement pointed out.

AIFF president Praful Patel, also a cabinet minister, hailed the government's decision.

"This is an extremely positive development for Indian football and I am confident India will be able to make a formidable and successful bid with the backing of the Union Government of India even though there are some other strong contenders," Patel said.

"I have been actively following up with FIFA regarding the submission of our bid and I'm hopeful that our efforts will be fruitful," he said.

The U-17 World Cup 2017 will involve 24 of the best youth teams in the world, including hosts India, and is expected to be held in Mumbai, New Delhi, Kolkata, Goa, Bangalore and Kerala if India is successful in winning the bid.

Unilke the World Cup, which needs minimum 10 venues, the U-17 World Cup requires only four venues.

The inaugural edition of the tournament was held 1985 and is held every two years. Nigeria and Brazil are the most successful teams, having won thrice while Ghana and Mexico have triumphed twice each.

The next edition slated for 2013 will be held in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) while Chile will host the U-17 World Cup in 2015.

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