Post U-17 approval, Kochi stadium loses 13,000 in seat capacity
By Shan AS | Express News Service | Published: 19th May 2017 05:29 AM |
KOCHI: It’s now official. Kochi has been confirmed as one of the venues for the FIFA U-17 World Cup. Work was completed just in time to salvage the hosting rights which was under doubt after the FIFA inspection team had expressed dissatisfaction.
On Thursday, more than two months after his last announced visit to the city, tournament director Javier Ceppi said works related to infrastructure has been completed and Kochi will play host to eight matches including one quarterfinal as announced earlier. Express had earlier reported that FIFA will be moving ahead with their plans with Kochi in their scheme of things.
“Over the past seven weeks, we have visited eight-nine times and the amount of work that has been done at the stadium and training sites is tremendous. We see no reason to hold back Kochi and at this point in time we’re happy to say that Kochi is a World Cup venue,” he said.
There was some bad news too. Due to security concerns, FIFA has decided to close down the third tier of the gallery. In terms of numbers, the capacity of the stadium will come down from 55,000 to 41,748. The third tier was operational during the Indian Super League, but Ceppi said FIFA can’t overlook the security risks.
“This stadium is fit for 41,748 people. Not a single person more. We did an inspection with experts in terms of safe capacity and this stadium should never have people on the third tier, ever.”
Though the first tier gallery had its own evacuation route, the second and third tiers have only one common exit route, thereby making it riskier for spectators in case of any unforeseen eventuality.
He also touched upon the lukewarm response shown by the public to ticket-sales.
“We have been told that people here love football, but we haven’t sold much tickets so far. Kolkata is completely sold out while Keralites have bought I think 1000 tickets,” he said.
Apart from core infrastructural work, others work excluding painting will be finished before the visit of the next delegation in the first week of July. He also warned Kochi of being wary of complacency since they have got the final confirmation. Ceppi said any lapse from the organisers would invite disgrace to the city and state. “The event won’t be affected. But the reputation of the city and state will be affected,” he warned.
Ceppi also commented about goats being allowed to graze in the playing fields of the training arenas.
“Whoever is bringing goats, and I know they are doing it intentionally, don’t deserve to call themselves Keralites,” he commented.