FIFA to monitor protocols closely

Ahead of FIFA U-17 World Cup in India world body to visit venues

FIFA to monitor protocols closely
AIFF President Praful Patel, Pic:

PUNE: It’s final and a no-brainer that the AFC Women's Asian Cup 2022 will be played behind closed doors. This, after a ‘hypothetical’ question probing the possibility of opening doors to spectators in case Omicron cases reduced in Mumbai and Pune, was directed at the LOC, and the order of the day was to update “all set and ready to kick off.”

Having created a bio-bubble and taking every precautionary step as per protocol, The All India Football Federation President and LOC Chairman Praful Patel curtly informed, “I don’t see that (infection rate) can change (much) over 15 days.”

Speaking at a virtual conference, Patel lauded the efforts of the Asian Football Confederation, the entire LOC team in setting the precedent of having a successful tournament.

Opining that it would have been wonderful if the situation was different, he inferred, “we just cannot look into the perspective of spectators. We have international guests (teams and company) and the priority is in the interest of them.”

Patel strongly stamped the message that health is paramount and that the tournament is equally important to go on.

For Aditya Thackeray, Minister of Tourism, Government of Maharashtra, and President of Mumbai District Football Association (MDFA), who also graced the occasion, “the whole idea in the circumstances is to fulfil a commitment.”

Aditya’s sum up meant a lot as his vision is beyond and bigger for football in Maharashtra with many more international tournaments apart from development to come by.

Patel, however, did make it a point to mention that the AFC Women's Asia Cup will also be a test of a different sort with a high-powered delegation from the world body FIFA expected to come down for a “thorough check”.

FIFA’s visit is in lieu of India hosting the 2022 FIFA Under-17 Women’s World Cup from 11 to 30 October 2022.

“The tournament has already been postponed and they (FIFA) do not want further postponement,” Patel, also a member of the FIFA Council, added.

The blue-riband youth event was originally to be conducted in 2020 before it was cancelled due to the Covid pandemic.

Elaborating further, Patel said, “It will be a test for us. FIFA will certainly be looking at how best we are adhering to protocols. So, for us, it is important to put our best foot forward for which AFC has the confidence of AIFF.”

“Moreover, when the time (October) comes, the situation and protocols could be much different. There are so many to thank for putting the forthcoming Women's Asian Cup on track and what is driving it all is a combined effort.”

"We want a smooth, safe and successful tournament. Anything negative in this tournament should not have any impact on the FIFA Women's Under-17 World Cup we are hosting in October this year. We too don't want any postponement of that tournament."

As the clock ticks to the kick-off on January 20, one thing that all will hope is getting through as good hosts.

(Micky Aigner)