Bigger crowds for U-17 World Cup in India expected

Kolkata, Feb 23 (IANS) Youth World Cups generally attract lesser spectators than the senior spectacle. But if Javier Ceppi, tournament director for the FIFA U-17 World Cup to be hosted by India is to believed, India is set to buck the trend.

“India is a huge country,” Ceppi, in the city for inspecting the Salt Lake Stadium, told reporters here on Thursday.

“India is not treating this as an U-17 World Cup for sure. This is the first World Cup in India. So interest from state to government and the football community and sponsors have been massive. Corporates have also shown quite a lot of interest. It is our first time to push ourselves,” he added.

Ceppi said the benchmarks set by the other countries which have hosted World Cups before should not be used as a template here.

“The whole population of Chile (host of the last World Cup) fits in Delhi and in Kolkata on a weekday. So, if you ask me it is more difficult to fill a 20,000-seater capacity in La Serena that has 170,000 population than to fill an 85,000-seater capacity in Kolkata which has 4.573 million population,” he said.

On an average count, 5,000 to 7,000 people come to a venue to watch an U-17 World Cup match.

Each venue in India, out of six, will have eight to nine matches during the course of the World Cup.

The World Cup will be held between October 6 and 28. The draw for the event will be held on July 7.