Kochi, Apr 28 (PTI) Sports Minister Vijay Goel today expressed disappointment over the delay in completion of works at the main stadium and training grounds here for the FIFA U- 17 World Cup.
“We are much behind the schedule. We were supposed to complete the work by March 31,” he said after reviewing the preparations works at Jawaharlal Stadium, one of six venues selected for hosting matches, and the training grounds.
FIFA’s inspection team had last month expressed deep concern over the pace of work at the stadium, and set May 15 as deadline for completing work.
“Though I am disappointed over delay in completion of various works, the officers have promised me that most of the works, especially that at the Jawaharlal Nehru stadium, will be completed by May 15,” Goel told a press conference here.
The Local Organising Committee of FIFA U-17 World Cup had earlier this month asserted that Kochi was on its way to complete preparation work by May 15.
“I have told them that I am going to play football after May 15 in this ground. So you have to be ready, we will have a demonstration football show there (Kochi),” Goel said.
The minister’s visit was necessitated due to delay in preparation.
“Because of the delay, the minister (Goel) is here.So that I pushed the panic button that the Sports Ministry is very serious about the preparations of this FIFA World Cup venue,” he said.
He said he was “very much worried” about the delay.
“My Prime Minister (Narendra Modi) wants world class arrangements for hosting the international event. So I am taking personal interest in the arrangements and the preparations of FIFA World Cup,” the Minister said.
He said May 15 is the deadline for completing works at Jawaharlal Nehru stadium and all the training centres.
“They wanted May 31 as deadline for completing works at training centres. Now I have shifted the date to May 15 except for one or two things which they might not be able to put up before May 15. That relaxation is there,” Goel said.
The minister dismissed apprehensions that the venue could be dropped due to the delay.
Asked about it, Goel said, “That is not needed. I have full confidence in them that they will complete by May 15.” The review meeting chaired by the minister was attended by members of the tournament’s local organising committee and representatives of state sports federations.
The meeting also paid a tribute to legendary Kerala footballer T K S Mani, who passed away in Kochi yesterday.
Mani was captain of Kerala’s first ever Santosh Trophy winning team in 1973.
He had scored a hat-trick in the final against Railways.
This is published unedited from the PTI feed.