KOCHI:The lead-up to the 2017 FIFA U-17 World Cup is set to be a real appetiser for football fans. Having secured tie-ups with the football federations of Germany, Japan and Brazilian club Atletico Paranaense, the All India Football Federation (AIFF) is preparing to sign an agreement with the French Football Federation to help in its efforts to develop the world’s most popular sport in India.
Speaking on the sidelines of a function where ‘Training Site Agreements’ were submitted, the AIFF-appointed U-17 World Cup tournament director Javier Ceppi said: “The agreement with the French Football Federation could be signed within a month. It would open up opportunities for players to train in France and also for coaches from France to come over to India. The focus would be on youth development.”
With FIFA making a strong pitch to tap into the football potential of India, other countries are also keen to tie-up with India for exchange programmes, Ceppi said. Goan youngster Romeo Fernandes recently had a stint in Brazil, though he made just one substitute appearance for Atletico Paranaense.
While the U-17 World Cup is the first-ever FIFA event to happen in India, the prospects of the country hosting international friendlies to “test” the pitches being prepared for the global event also appear bright. While Ceppi stopped short of stating that national teams of top football nations could be playing in India in the next two years, he hinted the pre-tourney events could have an “international feature”.
He also stated that hosting of the FIFA event would create an infrastructural legacy for Indian youth. The training venues being developed will have floodlights, dressing rooms and facilities apart from the playing surface.
Kochi in List
“The fate is in Kochi’s hands,” said Javier Ceppi, the tournament director for the FIFA U-17 World Cup, after the city was announced as one of the venues provisionally selected to host the global event allotted to India.
Speaking after a ‘Kick-off Workshop’ held at the Jawaharlal Nehru International Stadium on Thursday, Ceppi was confident that the Kerala Football Association would be able to put in place all the necessary requirements