The Government of Kerala has announced its support to the Kerala Football Association’s (KFA) effort to host the under-17 FIFA World Cup if the All India Football Federation (AIFF) wins its bid to host the 2017 edition of the prestigious tournament. The cabinet meeting on Wednesday approved KFA’s proposal to enlist a city in the state, most probably Kochi, as one of the host venues to the event.
Support from the government has come as a relief for Kerala football as it tries to find its lost glory in the national stage. This decision comes after the Oommen Chandy government had extended its helping hands to bring back good days to Kerala football in the recently concluded valedictory function of Goal 2012 inter-collegiate football tournament at Hostel Casino, Kochi. KFA had submitted a representation to Oommen Chandy seeking his government’s support to its proposal to compete for the Under-17 World Cup matches.
“The cabinet has decided to extend full support to the Kerala Football Association’s bid to host the 2017 FIFA Under-17 World Cup matches in Kerala,’’ said the Chief Minister on Wednesday. Oommen Chandy also asked the Corporation of Kochi and the Greater Cochin Development Authority (GCDA) to provide all initiatives to hold the event.
KMI Mather, President of the KFA expressed his pleasure for the government’s decision and said that hosting of such a major event in the state would improve the infrastructure by leaps and bounds. “More than the World Cup coming to Kerala, the most important thing is that football will come back into the limelight. It now becomes imperative that the government installs good facilities for the sport,” said Mather.
P Anil Kumar, the secretary of KFA and a former Santosh Trophy player said that the association is looking forward to prepare strong bid documents, with the approvals of GCDA and Kochi Corporation who own the Jawaharlal Nehru International Stadium, Kochi, that would be submitted to the AIFF before March 5, 2012. AIFF are in turn to submit India’s proposal to the FIFA on March 15. The host nation for the 2017 event is expected to be announced in April.
The AIFF had said that they were planning to conduct the event in four to five cities in the country, giving priority to major cities like New Delhi, Bangalore, Mumbai, Kolkata and Chennai. But the KFA feels that Kerala, known as the cradle of Indian football, being a traditional football power house and home to die hard football fanatics must be taken into consideration as a venue for the world event.