FIFA to decide Under-17 World Cup host today, India front-runner

FIFA World Cup official ball

As the football world waits in eager anticipation to know their pairings for next year's World Cup, India will hope FIFA has a present in store for them when it's executive committee meets in the north-eastern Brazilian city Salvador da Bahia.

The country's bid to host the 2017 Under-17 World Cup will be tabled before the executive committee on Wednesday, with an official announcement of the host country expected on Thursday. India, encouraged by FIFA to bid for the tournament, will face competition from Ireland, 2010 World Cup hosts South Africa and Uzbekistan.

The All India Football Federation (AIFF) has been working on the bid for more than a year and officially submitted it last month. The bid document, which runs into a few hundred pages, contains a number of assurances from the central and state governments apart from the details about the infrastructure, host cities, security. The sports ministry has earmarked Rs 95 crore for the development of stadiums and an additional Rs 25 crore will be the contingency funds. The actual tournament expenses will be borne by the AIFF and FIFA.

On the scale of one to 10, AIFF general secretary Kushal Das rated India's chances of securing the hosting rights at 'seven'. One can understand Das's optimism. During his visit to New Delhi last year, FIFA president Sepp Blatter said the country enjoys his blessings to host the event.

"There is a good possibility. But I am not the only one in FIFA who decides. The decision has to be taken by the executive committee," Blatter had said.

Later, FIFA's secretary Jerome Valcke and the Asian Football Confederation also backed India's bid. Das, though, warned against jumping the gun. "Our bid is comprehensive and FIFA has been quite encouraging. They have realised the vast potential the country has and they really want us to host the tournament. Hopefully, they will find our bid satisfactory," the former International Cricket Council CFO said.

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