Navi Mumbai, March 22 (IANS) The FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup, scheduled to be held in India in October 2022, will be conducted under partial bio-bubble conditions and probably in fewer venues than earlier envisaged.
Though a final decision is yet to be taken, Jamie Yarza, Director of FIFA Tournaments, said on Tuesday that as of now it appears that they may not have to conduct the event in strict bio-secure conditions.
“We do have an open mind on such matters but as this moment it looks like we may not have to implement strict bio-bubble protocols. But the pandemic is not over so we will take all necessary safety measures. At the end of the day, the health of the players is very important,” said Yarza.
With the global Covid-19 pandemic still raging, the international football federation, FIFA, is re-evaluating its various options and its delegations are currently visiting India, visiting the various venues to assess the situation before the sport’s world governing body takes a final call regarding the U-17 Women’s World Cup.
The 16-team biennial event, originally scheduled in 2020, could not go ahead because of the Covid-19 pandemic. FIFA has instead allocated the 2022 edition to India which as per original plan is scheduled to be held at Ahmedabad, Bhubaneswar, Guwahati, Kolkata, Goa and Navi Mumbai, from October 11-30.
A FIFA team led by Jamie Yarza, Director of FIFA Tournaments, on Tuesday inspected the Dr D.Y Patil Sports Stadium, the training facilities and options for team hotels. The team will next visit Goa and Bhubaneswar. Another team had a few weeks back done a similar inspection of Kolkata and Bhubaneswar and will also submit its report.
Yarza said they are planning to take a decision as soon as possible but would consider all issues before taking a final call so as not to regret later that they should have taken a different decision.
“We are visiting the venues to evaluate the facilities, the travel facilities between the venues, the training facilities, the accommodation facilities etc along with the current condition of the pandemic in the region. We are keeping an open mind,” Yarza said during an informal interaction with the media here.
Yarza said the Fifa U-17 Men’s World Cup in India in 2017 was a grand success and FIFA wants the women’s event to be a success too considering the growing stature of the game.
He said reducing the number of venues to three-four nearby places, just like for the AFC Women’s Asian Cup which was held in Mumbai, Navi Mumbai and Pune, is one of the options being considered.
“We will have a Plan B and Plan C too in place so that we can switch to the in case necessary,” he said, adding a decision to allow spectators into the stadiums will be taken later to in consultation with local authorities.
Asked what will they evaluate whether the event is a success or not, Yarza said considering the current scenario, hosting the event will be considered as success.