Dateline: May 19, 2017. Subject: Football. Matter: Readiness of venues. Almost 3,150 kilometers apart. Kochi and Qatar. One, read Kochi, less than five months from its Fifa World Cup 2017 date was faced with uncertainty. The other, read Qatar, still five years to go for the big bang Fifa World Cup in 2022 is ready and set to go.
For Kochi, fate hung in balance till finally, the green signal came on Thursday for the Jawahar Lal Nehru International Stadium to host eight Fifa Under-17 games later this year. In Qatar, Khalifa International Stadium pronounced to be fit and ready for its first Fifa 2022 World Cup game, still five years away. The stadium was set to host a prestigious game very next day (Friday).
In Kochi, the stadium was being updated to be match fit. In Qatar, there were bigger challenges. The arena had to be readied and made up to date for the needs of an extremely developed scenario five years later. Kochi fails even in succeeding to get a go ahead. The stadium that boasts of 60,000 seats, is allowed to accommodate a maximum of 41,478 people. “Not a seat more”. In Qatar, the stadium is ready with a state of the art cooling system, 10,000 sqm VIP / corporate hospitality zones and 40,000 seats with air-conditioned facilities.
For India, an opportunity to stage the under-17 World Cup is a ‘test case’ too. To show the world strength, capacity and readiness to host the grand events of global magnitude. Kochi certainly will be a failure on that scale, even if the officials have managed an occasion pat their backs for a while with the last-minute go-ahead to stage the Under-17 World Cup matches. Albeit, with riders and restrictions.
Qatar for sure is an example Indian sports administrators must follow. A lesson, we must learn if we nurture the dreams of staging mega sporting events if we need our bids to go beyond files and evaluations.