KOCHI: “For Kochi, it has been a bumpy ride. We faced several hurdles and hope the current one would be the last of the obstacles”. This was what tournament nodal officer APM Mohammed Hanish told Express after the Kerala High Court directed the owners of the business establishments operating in the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium complex to down their shutters from September 25.
The shop owners approached the court after owners of the stadium — the Greater Cochin Development Authority — had issued closure notice to them as per FIFA mandate. “We’ve been toiling hard for the last two-and-a-half years and the last thing we had wanted was an unfavourable court order. We had invested that much money — about 60 crore rupees were spent on preparing the infrastructure — and time on the project that it would have really hurt us had a stay was put on shop closure. Since the court has reckoned our standpoint, we are now focussing on handing over the venue to the Local Organising Committee (LOC) as early as possible,” Hanish said.
As per sources, the organisers were ready to handover the stadium to LOC on September 15 itself, but with the court issue lingering on the latter advised them to hold the ceremony later.
“Maybe, they wanted to takeover the venue after all legal hurdles were over,” sources said. They also added that the FIFA had in no point raised any issue with the LOC or the nodal officer regarding the legal wrangle.
“Those reports which said FIFA had given an ultimatum to AIFF were false. FIFA didn’t interfere in this issue as some potrayed. If at all they had interfered, it would have come through the LOC or the nodal officer and not AIFF,” sources added.
About 44 shop owners had petitioned the court against closure of the shops for about one-and-a-half month alleging that their businesses would incur heavy loss if closed for such a long duration. The court also directed GCDA to deposit a sum of `25 lakhs as security deposit to compensate for the losses incurred by the shop owners. The final order on the issue is expected to be pronounced on Monday.
The U-17 World Cup may be all about the players, but the tournament has seen some amazing coaches as well. Express takes a look at some of the iconic coaches at the tournament.
Les Scheinflug Australia
Editions: 1991, 1993, 1995, 1999
Scheinflug arrived in Australia as a post-World War 2 refugee and went on to represent the national team. Apart from coaching the U-17 team, he has coached the senior team on several occassions.