March 2017
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FIFA U-17 World Cup 2017: Kochi slammed on inspection for lack of preparedness
(Kochi, Mar,24,2017):It's only months remaining for India to host its inaugural international football tournament in the guise of the U17 World Cup.

A team of 21 members were tasked with scanning the six accredited venues but Kochi came up well short, when it came to its assessment.

FIFA Head of Tournaments, Jaime Yarza when asked about the state of readiness of the Jawaharlal Nehru International Stadium in Kochi did not hide his displeasure.

"I don't want to go into specifics but when it comes to the general state, a lot is unfinished. All the areas have concerns. The media box, the fire system, the seats lot remains to be done. The completion of the work that we requested in our last visit has not been done. There is a lot of concern so we set up a new deadline of 15th May. We really haven't completed any of the work," he said.

Yarza did express satisfaction with the training grounds and the construction of toilets in the stadium in what was otherwise a damning view of the state of work in Kochi.

With the stadium having a host of shops and stores in the premises, the director expressed deep dissatisfaction at having failed to come to a decision regarding the closure as he cited them a security concern.

"As we said from the beginning we really need to close the stores as we cannot allow entry of unauthorized people during the matches. We cannot control the security if people come to these stores. We cannot accept the situation and still we have no solution. We really need to close that especially the stores which have fuel tanks which can lead to a grave security concern."

Torunament Director Javier Ceppi tried his best to temper the situation by praising the organisers in doing their best and said they did not lack in effort or motivation.

"I have been working with our colleagues in Kerala. I can vouch for them, it's not a lack of professionalism or a lack of interest. We are an international tournmanent and our standards are definitely higher than tournaments that have happened so far. To understand the level of requirements that an international tournament has it takes time," Ceppi said taking a veiled dig at the Indian Super League (ISL).

Yarza concluded that with the support of the state government and if work went full steam ahead, he was confident that they would mee their requirements by the next deadline of May 15.

Navi Mumbai and Guwahati are next on the radar of the inspection team, before finishin off in Kolkata.

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