The current global situation due to the Covid-19 pandemic has compelled FIFA to scrap the tournament.

The 2020 FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup, that was slated to be held in India has been cancelled due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. Subsequently, India has been handed the hosting rights for the 2022 edition of the tournament. The FIFA-Confederations Covid-19 Working Group recommended for this move after concluding that the global situation has failed to normalize to a sufficient level to deal with the challenges posed by the pandemic.

“In light of not being able to host the tournament next year, FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup taking place in India in 2022 comes as a delightful silver lining. Following discussions with FIFA, we agreed that hosting the tournament without proper qualifications and without spectators led to more uncertainty, and it would have taken away from our objective of developing and promoting women’s football by hosting the competition in such circumstances,” Praful Patel, President of the All India Football Federation (AIFF), reacted to this development.

“We now have a unique opportunity to start afresh and still have a considerable headstart from the work that has been already put in. We thank FIFA for its support so far and now eagerly look forward to 2022. The journey we have made so far has given our women footballers confidence to compete at the highest level, and we are committed to steering women’s football in the right direction to ensure it achieves the heights it deserves,” Patel added.

The tournament was initially supposed to be held in November 2020. However, it was later postponed to February-March 2021 due to the global pandemic. FIFA expressed gratitude to the host cities, five state governments and the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports for their support during the course of this journey. The venues for the 2022 FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup are expected to remain the same as that of 2020. However, the current batch of girls who were preparing for the tournament will be unable to participate in the upcoming edition.

Roma Khanna, Tournament Director of the Local Organising Committee, reflected on this situation as she said, “It is a difficult decision but the right one in the current circumstances. We’re now looking forward to hosting the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup in 2022. We’re proud of the effort that has been put in by everyone and would like to thank the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports, all the host cities, and FIFA for working tirelessly with us to raise the profile of women’s football. We see a shift in mindset which will enable more girls to take up football with confidence. With FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup India 2022 in mind, we shall continue with the effort towards the development of women’s football.”

2022 is set to be an eventful year for women’s football in the country as India will be hosting the AFC Women’s Asian Cup that year in addition to the FIFA U-17 World Cup.

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