Tournament Director of LOC Roma Khanna asserted that the World Cup will be played in the presence of fans in the stadiums.
The FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup that is supposed to be held in India was rescheduled to February 17-March 7, 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic across the world. Despite this new arrangement, apprehensions have persisted over whether fans would be allowed to gather in the stadium to watch the matches live.
Fortunately, Roma Khanna, the Tournament Director of the Local Organizing Committee has provided a clarification on that. She insisted that this particular tournament would be an opportunity for India to demonstrate to the world that it is prepared to tackle any challenge that it confronts.
“The event will be among the first global sporting tournaments that will take place post-COVID. It’s a huge opportunity for us to showcase that India is prepared for any challenge,” Khanna mentioned whilst speaking to The Times of India. She further added, “We’re absolutely certain of having fans come to the stadium,and providing them with a safe environment. For that, we will be definitely taking all the sanitization and precautionary measures.”
This is the second instance when a FIFA World Cup would be conducted in India, that too, within a span of four years. Hence, the preparations to highlight the tournament and market it well through different events and programs are already being chalked out. One of them is to felicitate the corona warriors- a category of people that mainly comprises of healthcare professionals, police officers and other individuals who have aided the people of the country to combat this pandemic.
“We have a number of events planned leading up to the tournament. But, we had to put on hold some of our programs like Football for All due to the COVID,” Khanna observed. “We are soon planning to restart those in the host cities. We will certainly celebrate our COVID warriors and survivors through some of the legacy programs.”
The Bundesliga already resumed their 2019-20 football season, but matches are being played behind closed doors. However, a notion has been developed in recent times that the new footballing campaign in Europe would permit fans to attend games. Naturally, Khanna is keen to draw parallels and replicate the deeds of the top European leagues.
She explained, “LOC and FIFA will be monitoring everything very closely once all the leagues resume, not only in Europe but also Asia.” Khanna added, “While we will certainly pick up the best practices to create a safe environment, we will also explore solutions that are India-centric and can be effectively implemented across the host cities.”
Due to the coronavirus crisis, there are doubts over how the organizing committee in cooperation with the other respective authorities would carry out the required tasks for a seamless execution of the tournament. 16 teams are supposed to participate in the World Cup and the logistics around the same are humongous, especially when viewed with the ongoing nationwide lockdown due to COVID-19.
“Given the number of hotel rooms, transport, medical facilities, stadiums and training facilities required for a World Cup with 16 teams, it was not possible to organize the tournament in just one city. So, we have to spread it across five venues. But, we remain positive and confident that together with the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports we will work out the best solution,” the Tournament Director of the LOC said.
Navi Mumbai, Kolkata, Ahmedabad, Guwahati and Bhubaneswar are the five cities locked in to host the matches of the tournament. Furthermore, Khanna even remarked that this World Cup is an opportunity to display the potential of women’s football to India. “We won’t leave any stone unturned to deliver a successful event,” she concluded.