‘India can possibly host FIFA U-20 World Cup’. FIFA U-17 World Cup 2017 project director Joy Bhattacharjya said India has done a monumental task by hosting the marquee football tournament and the nation has a strong chance of hosting the U-20 World Cup in 2019. “There is always a possibility. We have done a very good job (in hosting the U-17 World Cup); so whatever it is, they would like to give it to us; if anything (luck) plays a part, it will be whether it plays a part,” Bhattacharya told IANS. “Otherwise they would be keen to give it to us,” he added.
He also asserted that hosting the U-17 World Cup was the right way to initiate infrastructure development for football in the country which will benefit the game in the long run. He also said that better coaches and referees are the critical need of the hour for the growth of Indian football. “See, there is no one right way. I believe you are right; hosting the junior World Cup is always the right way, because you know you are focusing on junior football, you are focusing on the base of the pyramid, you can’t look at the top of the pyramid,” Bhattacharya said. “But I think now there is no one approach; you can’t just hold one tournament, you have to do grassroot, you have to do coaching, you have to do 20 other things, and that’s what is happening now.
“It’s not like we have done one World Cup, move on. You have to develop, the leagues have to be better, the teams have to be better, the competition has to be better,” he added. “More referees in the game, more coaches; and those two are the vital part.” Bhattacharya was left astonished when he learnt that India has not been included in the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia trophy tour international leg. The trophy tour, which started on January 22, will move to 51 countries in all six continents before returning to Russia for the final round, but the FIFA U-17 World Cup hosts have not been made a part of the journey. “I’m surprised, I was not aware of it,” Bhattacharya said. “And surprised because we are such a big market and not being a part is just surprising to me. “And normally in a trophy tour, FIFA is not the decision-maker; so I imagine the LOC, the Russian Federation had something in mind. But I’m just surprised,” Bhattacharya added.
He said that the Sports Ministry has gradually started improving by spending money at the required places on a priority basis. “Relative priorities in terms of finance are very, very different. The Defence Ministry, for example, will spend more in four hours of working time than the Sports Ministry will spend in the whole year,” Bhattacharya said. “It’s only now that sports is gradually getting its importance,” he explained
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