The FIFA Under-17 Women’s World Cup is one of the most awaited tournaments to be contested in India later this year but the outbreak of the COVID-19 has cast severe doubts over its future. The tournament will be held in India from November 2 to 21 and only two of the 16 teams – Japan and North Korea – have qualified so far. As hosts, India are the assured third team. Also Read - AIFF Opens Indian Club Licensing System For 2020-21 Season
Kusal Das, General Secretary of the All India Football Federation, remains hopeful about the grand event, his optimism stemming from the fact that a good eight months are left between now and November for the AIFF to prepare for the tournament. Also Read - India Confirmed to Host AFC Women's Asian Cup in 2022
“FIFA will take a call on this, they are keeping a track of all the developments and we will see how it goes. Yes, there is still a lot of time left and we will wait and watch the developments in the coming time,” Das told PTI. Also Read - AIFF Approves New Foreigners' Rule in I-League, Says U-17 Women WC Postponement Won't Affect India's Preparation
Ahmedabad, Bhubaneswar, Guwahati, Kolkata and Navi Mumbai are the five venues chosen to host the qualifiers but even though the stadiums are ready for the big stage, the organisers are worried about the crisis at hand.
“We are currently monitoring the situation regarding Covid-19 in India in close collaboration with the Local Organising Committee (LOC) as well as other key stakeholders, including the AIFF (All India Football Federation), sports ministry and relevant authorities in the country,” a FIFA Spokesperson had earlier told Times of India.
“With public health and safety in mind, we are also working with the LOC to identify any potential impact on preparations for the tournament, as well as finding alternative solutions to upcoming events that were planned in the lead up to the tournament. Regarding qualifying tournaments for the event, we are currently working closely with confederations regarding alternate dates.”
The apex body is keeping a close tab on the development but in the unfortunate event that the tournament does not get a green signal, FIFA is exploring alternate solutions.
“FIFA is currently monitoring developments regarding the coronavirus outbreak in India to decide the future of the U-17 Women’s World Cup which is slated to be held in the country in November,” the apex body had said.
“FIFA is also working with the Local Organising Committee to identify any potential impact on preparations for the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup India 2020, as well as finding alternative solutions to upcoming events that were planned in India in the lead up to the tournament.”