FIFA Under-17 World Cup Football India

2017 FIFA Under-17 World Cup can ‘revolutionise’ football in India, says tournament director Javier Ceppi

August 4, 2017

The 2017 FIFA Under-17 World Cup is set to change the game for football in India and excitement is building ahead of the tournament, which takes place in October.

The world will be watching as India takes centre stage, with venues in Kolkata, Kochi, New Delhi, Navi Mumbai, Guwahati and Margao all set to host matches as 24 teams of youngsters battle it out for silverware.

iSportconnect spoke to Javier Ceppi, Tournament Director of the Local Organising Committee for the FIFA Under-17 World Cup India 2017, to discuss how the competition could lead to a surge in popularity for the sport.

What has been the response of Indian fans towards the FIFA U-17 World Cup India 2017?

“The response of the fans has been fantastic; it really shows that football is taking over the country. The excitement that we have seen all around the country has been very good, and the fans have been very active in supporting the event.”

Do you think the FIFA U-17 World Cup India 2017 can change the image of football in India?

“It is a revolution for Indian football, that is for sure. We have started a programme called Mission Eleven Million, by which we are reaching to 11 million school kids in all the states in the country, both boys and girls. There are already more than six million kids who are now actively playing football.

“There is a change in the concept here, bringing small sided games to all schools and engaging teachers, parents and administrators to tell them that sport is an integral part of a child’s development. The message has been very well taken and the change it is producing is fantastic.”

Are you happy with ticket sales so far?

“Up until this point the sales have been quite good, we have changed a tendency in India of last minute purchase and a sizable amount of tickets have been sold when we still have over 60 days to go. We believe that if the sales keep showing such a healthy status, we would be able to show the world a large attendance at all matches.”

What has been the response from sponsors?

“So far, we have three National Supporters, which are Hero Motocorp, Bank of Baroda and Coal India. Their support has been fantastic and they are quite excited to be associated with the first football World Cup to be played in India. There is active interest from other corporates in India as well, and we have up to six National Supporters spots to be filled, which we are expecting to be taken up very soon.”

Is it tough to get the Indian audience move beyond cricket?

“Football is really taking over India, the level of interest in the game is increasing day by day, and we feel that a huge catalyst for this is all that has been done in connection with the FIFA U-17 World Cup India 2017. The response on ticket sales shows that Indians are very eager to watch world-class football and that the sport is going through a transformational phase in the country.”

Interview by Shantanu Srivastav

FIFA Under-17 World Cup Football India