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Fifa team satisfied with the facilities in Delhi

New Delhi: The Indian Football Association (IFA) officials may have a tough task on hand when the two-member Fifa inspection team arrives in Calcutta on Thursday night, for the preliminary inspection of venues for the 2017 under-17 World Cup.

The inspection team consists of Inaki Alvavarez, deputy director and head of event management competition division, Fifa, and Vijay Parthasarathy, manager IT competitions, of the world body.

The duo has already inspected six possible venues and would go to Guwahati after finishing the inspection in Calcutta. The previous venues they visited were Kochi, Goa, Mumbai, Pune, Bangalore and Delhi (on Wednesday). Out of the eight venues, six would finally receive the Fifa nod to host the World Cup matches.

On Wednesday, they visited three stadiums in Delhi and expressed their satisfaction over the facilities there. The Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Delhi is expected to be one of the main centres for the World Cup.

What has made the IFA’s task tough is the fact that in most of the other venues the Fifa team was welcomed by the local governments and was assured of all the support for development of infrastructure and other facilities.

In Goa and Kerala, the chief ministers of the states met the Fifa officials and announced huge budgetary allocations for the World Cup.

“Clinching the deal in venue allocations would depend much on the support of the state governments,” admitted an AIFF official. “Neither the federation nor the state associations have their own grounds. So, nothing would move without the help of the government.”

AIFF vice president Subrata Dutta said Calcutta was ready for the challenge. “In Calcutta, too, the state government has been taking keen interest. It has already allotted money for infrastructure. Our sports minister will also meet the Fifa team.”

Federation sources said the Fifa officials would be strict on things like measurement of the pitch and the quality of the turf. The IFA is likely to tell the Fifa team that the Salt Lake Stadium would be turned into a natural grass pitch.

Alvarez, who spoke about his experience of inspecting venues, said India was heading in a very “good direction” in regard to organisation of the World Cup. He, however, also made it clear that India would have to go a long way to achieve the target.