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04 May 2019, 18:24 IST

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The Jawaharlal Stadium in Kochi missed out hosting U-17 Women’s World Cup next year (Image: ISL)After successfully organising the U-17 Men’s World Cup in 2017, India has earned the bragging rights to host the U-17 Women’s World Cup next year. This is going to be second FIFA organised event in the country and first international women’s tournament.The preparation to organise the tournament has already been started and India are leaving no stone unturned to make it a grand affair once again. The U-17 World Cup in 2017 has earned India reputations from all over the world and helped to break several records. Among which was the record number of attendance in six venues. The tournament witnessed a record 1,347,133 attendance with almost 26,000 spectators per game.However, All India Football Federation has recently announced the four host cities and immediately stoked controversy by excluding traditional football loving cities like Kerala and Goa. While Delhi, Mumbai and Kolkata are the other three cities, Bhubaneswar has earned a surprise entry into the list of host cities, given the fact that they are far from being a football-loving state, compared to Kerala and Goa.In recent times, Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar has witnessed so many football tournaments including both the seasons of AIFF Super Cup, Hero Gold Cup (a four-nation women’s tournament) and recently played the host stadium to Minerva Punjab FC in their AFC Cup affairs.The hockey stadium bearing the same name played the role of host city in the Hockey World Cup last year and almost all the matches were played under a packed stadium.However, the numbers clearly suggest that Bhubaneswar has much way to go before shifting their love from hockey to football.On the contrary, Kerala and Goa witnessed excellent footfall when India organised the U-17 World Cup two years back. Even though the host country hadn’t played in any of the venue, the excitement to watch the future generation of Brazil, Spain and Germany has attracted scores of people into the stadium.The Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Kochi witnessed the 120,254 people spanning eight matches. It hosted six group stage matches and one each pre-quarterfinal and quarterfinal match. On the other hand, the Fatorda Stadium had seen a footfall on 94,938 people in eight matches.The AIFF has not given a clear reason on why they excluded two beautiful cities but speaking to Free Press Journal, an official said, “It is unfortunate that the football crazy state like Goa has been ignored, said the official while adding that even Kerala has not found their name in the list of the venues.”

“As of now these are the venues and there will not be an addition to this. India qualify automatically as host, besides 15 other teams from six separate continents,” the official added.The football-loving people of Kerala and Goa have all the reasons to be disappointed. There is no denying of the fact that tournaments like this would’ve been played in packed stadium there.The Indian women’s team has been performing great in recent times and is expected to take centre stage when the World Cup commences in September next year.While talking to ANI, India women’s team coach Maymol Rocky had recently said, “It is an opportunity to play ath the highest level for the young players and being a part of it all will be an experience they will enjoy and remember forever.”

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