Kolkata, Feb 23 (IANS) The Salt Lake Stadium, which is getting ready to host the FIFA U-17 World Cup in October, will be almost ready for the youth showpiece by the end of March when the FIFA delegation visits for another round of inspection, tournament Director Javier Ceppi said here on Thursday.
“I am extremely satisfied with the progress of the stadium,” Ceppi told reporters, after a recce of the under-construction colossal venue, which after renovation will have a capacity of 87,000 spectators.
“We have to realise that the stadium is huge. So works here take time, but the amount of progress that we have seen from three weeks till now has been fantastic,” Ceppi, who touches down in the eastern metropolis almost every month to take stock of the progress, said.
“Everything is on track. Because of the dimensions of the stadia it would not have been possible to complete work by 31st of January. Stadium will be completed well in time for the World Cup. By the next FIFA inspection in March, we would see 90-95 per cent completion,” Ceppi earmarked.
Aroop Biswas, the state Youth Services and Sports minister had said that by January 31 the stadium would be ready.
Asked about the ticket prices, Ceppi said: “The prices will be lesser than a movie ticket. I can say that one would be able to watch a World Cup match for less than Rs 100.”
Ceppi vouched that the turf does not need international friendly matches before the World Cup to test the turf as other areas are much more of a concern that the playing surface.
“You can do training on the turf and that’s how you test the turf. The testing of the venue has much less to do with the ground and more about say how the media tribune works, how the flows of people work,” he said
The U-17 World Cup, the sport’s third most important tournament globally and the most high-profile football event the country is hosting, will he held across six cities – New Delhi, Kolkata, Guwahati, Margao, Kochi and Navi Mumbai – from October 6 to 28.
There have been questions about Delhi’s pollution putting a spanner to the works during the World Cup as it will start in October, the time of the year smog can play a part. Ceppi cleared the air saying that there will be matches in Delhi and precautions will be taken to water down impact of pollution.
“We know that there is an air quality concern post Diwali in Delhi. But it has nothing to do with Delhi hosting matches. What we will analyse now is post Diwali what are the issues we need to address,” Ceppi
As many as 24 teams, including hosts India, will take part in the tournament which will have 52 matches and played before an expected global audience of over 200 million in 200 countries.