India is one of the countries that have been impacted the most by the coronavirus (COVID-19). Due to the massive number of COVID-19 cases, it has been extremely difficult for Indian sports to return to normal. The FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup was initially scheduled to take place in November 2020.
FIFA Cancels U-17 World Cup In 2021
FIFA decided to postpone the World Cup to February 2021 as it was not feasible for football players from all over the world to travel to India during the pandemic. FIFA has now confirmed that given the current situation with COVID-19 in India, it was not going forward with the U-17 World Cup in Feb 2021.
The cancellation does not come as a major surprise as India is currently fighting to get things back to normal. Hosting a FIFA World Cup is something that India is just not equipped to handle right now. This is why the BCCI had to cancel the 2020 Indian Premier League (IPL) in India and shift it to the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
The Indian Super League (ISL) which has 11 teams from different parts of the country taking part has been restricted to Goa where a bio-bubble has been formed in three different locations for the duration of the 2020-2021 season. FIFA was not willing to take the risk of creating bio-bubbles as based on the current situation; it would put both the players and officials at risk.
India Will Host FIFA World Cup In 2022
While FIFA cancelled India’s rights to host the World Cup in 2021, it granted India the right to host the tournament in 2022. The FIFA-Confederations COVID-19 Working Group, made the same decision with regards to the U-20 World Cup which was scheduled to take place in Costa Rica in 2021. The U-20 Women’s World Cup was cancelled for 2021 and Costa Rica retained its rights to host the tournament in 2022.
India was initially set to host the FIFA World Cup from Nov 2 to 21 across 5 venues in the country. The tournament was later pushed to 17 Feb to March 7, 2021 but this was cancelled after FIFA and All India Football Federation (AIFF) discussed ground realities and made an informed decision.
AIFF Looks At Positive Side
The cancellation of the U-17 FIFA World Cup is definitely a blow to football fans in India but the AIFF is looking at things in a positive light. The AIFF released a statement which said while it is disappointing to have the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup cancelled; India still has the assurance of hosting the tournament in 2022.
This delay will be helpful for U-17 women footballers to use the additional time to train and prepare for the 2022 World Cup. The AIFF will also be working on developing football infrastructure around the country as preparation is currently underway at eight new football training sites located in Bhubaneswar and Ahmadabad. There is also working going on at the Kalinga Stadium.
India To Also Host AFC Asia Cup In 2022
If India does manage to get the COVID-19 situation under control in the next few months, the AIFF will be able to focus on preparing for not just one major but two major football tournaments in 2020. Apart from the new U-17 Women’s World Cup, India will also be playing host to the AFC Asia Cup in 2022. All of the top Asian football nations will take part in the Asia Cup.
FIFA will continue to work closely with the AIFF in the coming months to monitor not only the COVID-19 situation but to also see if India is fully prepared to host multiple football tournaments in 2022.