Challenge is to upgrade stadia: Praful Patel
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Days after the 2017 Under-17 World Cup was awarded to India, the All India Football Federation president Praful Patel looked ahead with guarded optimism and admitted that work needed to be done to bring the stadia up to scratch.
Of the eight venues in India short-listed to host the tournament, Patel made it clear that the final six can be finalised only once they meet FIFA criteria.
"I am sending a strong message that those states or cities that don't provide us the right infrastructure will not be able to host it. I am being very tough because no state government comes forward and supports the development of infrastructure. As much as it is the responsibility of the AIFF, it is also the responsibility of the state governments to develop infrastructure," Patel said on Monday.
New Delhi, Goa, Bangalore, Pune, Mumbai, Kochi, Kolkata and Guwahati are the eight short-listed venues.
The AIFF president also said that artificial turf was not viewed as a 'negative' by FIFA but was not a preferred positive. The Salt Lake Stadium in Kolkata and the Cooperage in Mumbai, two of the shortlisted stadia for the tournament have an artificial turf.
"FIFA ideally wants grass, it doesn't mean it will be a disqualification. Why is the World Cup played on grass? But they will not bar us from playing on artificial surfaces," Patel added.
With the AIFF also planning to bid for the 2015 and 2016 Club World Cups, upgrading infrastructure will have to be done on a war-footing.
"I have to be strict in order to meet the deadline because when the FIFA comes in 2015 to inspect, they will ask me questions. If I am not able to provide them the confidence, they will not allow us host the event," Patel said.
AIFF general secretary Kushal Das said that a 'letter of intent' for hosting the Club World Cup had been forwarded to the sport's world governing body
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