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India is hosting upcoming FIFA U-17 World Cup 2017 for the very first time, and there are possibilities Capital city – New Delhi won’t be part of the scheduled fixtures. FIFA U-17 World Cup is scheduled to take place between 6th to 26th Oct. 2017, and in between Diwali festival will take place on 19th. FIFA governing body is monitoring the Delhi pollution level from last six to seven years, since they announced in 2013 to host FIFA U-17 World Cup in India, and Delhi continuous  air quality degradation has forced FIFA to call an action. The tournament director for the local organising committee, Javier Ceppi raises his concern about Delhi’s poor air quality, and said match fixtures are not scheduled due to concern over Delhi’s air quality.

Talking with Indian Express, Ceppi said,“they have studied the capital’s air quality statistics for the “last six to seven years” and are analysing the data before taking a “conscious decision” on the issue. “The match schedule is not finalised yet. One of the reasons for that is the pollution. And pollution in Delhi is a serious concern… particularly after Diwali. We all know this.”

“That (pollution) is one thing we can’t really control, no matter what different measures are taken. You cannot reduce pollution from one day to the next, to the amount that it would need to be reduced for hosting games. It will certainly be a factor when we are considering the schedule and allocation of matches, particularly in Delhi. Because in that sense, Delhi is the one that raises the most concern,” Ceppi added.

Delhi air pollution has certainly raised questions in recent years, and various sports has been affected due to poor air quality. Indian domestic cricket tournament Ranji Trophy matches were cancelled last year due to unhealthy condition, and schools were also closed due to poor air quality of the capital. Diwali’s firecrackers and stubble burning increases the smog level during winter, and unfortunately tournament is also scheduled at the same time. During Hero Indian Super League matches in 2016, it was also noticed smog level is making it difficult for the spectators to watch the game, how could players cope with this situation.

FIFA U-17 World Cup was scheduled to be hosted at six locations including New Delhi, Navi Mumbai, Margao, Kochi, Guwahati & Kolkata. Now, it may only be limited to the other five venues excluding Delhi, although schedules are not finalised yet. Ceppi raises concern about poor air quality after Diwali, there are chances Delhi will be able to host pre-Diwali fixtures at New Delhi, Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium.


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