CHENNAI: The test events for football World Cups are usually held 12 months before, when the best teams in the world gather to contest the Conderations Cup.
Of course, it is ridiculous to suggest that something of that sort should happen for the U-17 version. But one of the venues for India 2017 will get tested like never before — with a Justin Bieber concert.
The Canadian popstar’s first concert in India is slated to be held Navi Mumbai’s DY Patil Stadium, one of the venues for the U-17 World Cup, on May 10. The timing is curious, for a FIFA team will visit venues towards the end of March to inspect renovations and stamp a final seal of approval.
Naturally, one might be forgiven for expecting the tournament’s Local Organising Committee to be less than pleased about a concert of that scale happening in the stadium, just five months before the World Cup starts. On the contrary, they couldn’t be happier.
The tournament organisers have revealed they will use the concert as a test run for facilities they have installed at the venue for the World Cup.
“We knew this was happening and were kept in the loop by stadium officials,” said Joy Bhattacharjya, the tournament’s project director.
“We are happy that a concert of this magnitude is held there, for this will give us a chance to assess the facilities at the stadium. A Justin Bieber concert means there will be a packed house, so the stadium will be stretched to its limits. If there is some issue, we will still have time to iron it out.”
Bhattacharjya confirmed that a FIFA team will be present at the stadium during the concert. “Our people will be there to look at how well the stadium is functioning and if there are issues,” he said.
One of the major talking points, when the concert was announced, was how it might affect the condition of the turf. But Bhattacharjya confirmed that the stadium will have to wait till after the concert to get a fresh surface.
“They are anyway laying a new surface,” he said. “DY Patil has seen a lot of cricket matches and the turf is still a cricket surface. They’ll remove that and lay a new surface. The way they are building a stage, there will be no long term damage to the surface. International management firms are in touch with us.”