New Delhi: India is all-set to host the FIFA Under-17 Football World Cup in October and the preparations are going on in full swing across six cities ahead of the final set of FIFA inspection.
CNN News18's sports correspondent Shikharr Chandra spoke to Project Director of the tournament — Joy Bhattacharya — who has assured the fans that all the venues will be ready in time for the matches and there won't be any scamper for last minute details.
Here is the interview -
Q: In your view, how prepared are all the six venues ahead of the final set of FIFA inspection?
A- I think a lot of hard work has gone into it and it will be stupid to say that we are 100% ready, but this is more ready than any other tournament in India. What is left is mainly overlays and small things.
Q: When the last set of FIFA inspections happen - is it necessary for the venues to be 100 complete or is there some sort of a leverage allowed by FIFA?
A- There are something’s that we don’t buy early and so it cannot be 100% ready. A lot of the overlays will not be ready but what is important is that the main infrastructure is ready, the things that you cannot do in the last minute. So those are the things I can say are completely ready.
Q: Few key points such as the civic work was not fully complete in the last FIFA inspection. What is the status of it now?
A - We are almost there. Barring Kochi and Guwahati, where some work is left, but a significant amount of work has already been done and the inspection team will see the progress when they are here.
Q: What are the key points that the inspection team will look at when they arrive here?
A- I think the best part about FIFA is that they work outwards, so everything works with the players. So the field of play, then the dressing room and then the spectators. In fact the last thing that they check is the VIP section.
Q: We have a concert tomorrow in Delhi and one Justin Beiber concert in Mumbai, which will really test how well these stadiums are prepared. How does FIFA plan to deal with these issues?
A- I think readiness is not a problem because we will be on top of our game. The good thing is that these events will give you a sense of flow. You get to know how the stadium is working and the safety of the spectatos. These are great opportunities for us to test these things. Maintenance is a key Indian problem - and what happens in India is typically nobody touches the ground for six months and then somebody decides that a tournament is coming and that is when we start working for it. That did not happen with us because we have started to work on these grounds very early.
Q: How do you look back at the transformation since the time India was handed the hosting rights of the World Cup in 2013?
A- It's been huge. I've been here since 2014 and what I'd like to say is that FIFA and Javier have brought a sense of professionalism into this and which will help India not just now but in the future as well.