India stand on the cusp of history as the hosts are set to make their debut in a FIFA event against a formidable USA in a group match of the U-17 World Cup, which begins on Friday. India qualified automatically for the event as hosts. But the event will not have a big extravagant opening ceremony as suggested by the Indian government. Football's world governing body FIFA made it clear that the money should be used for the development of the game instead of wasting it on an opening ceremony. The sports ministry wanted to host an opening ceremony either on October 5, a day before the start of the prestigious tournament in New Delhi, or on October 6, just a few hours before the kick-off.
Asked what the world body thinks about the government's plan to hold an opening ceremony, FIFA's Head of Tournaments Jaime Yarza made it quite apparent that such a plan was not particularly welcome.
"FIFA and the Local Organising Committee of the FIFA U-17 World Cup have been working very closely with the Government of India to make the upcoming tournament a great success.
During the course of this work, FIFA has been informed about the Government of India's interest in holding an opening ceremony for the FIFA U-17 World Cup," Yarza told PTI in an e-mail interview.
"To be in line with previous tournaments, and in the best interest of the sport, we believe that the main focus should remain on football and the players, and that the investment necessary for an opening ceremony is better deployed in the youth and in football development of the country - even more so now with the AIFF's ambitious plans to lay solid foundations for India's footballing future," he added.
The Under-17 World Cup, the first ever FIFA event India is hosting, will be played in six cities - New Delhi, Navi Mumbai, Kolkata, Guwahati, Kochi and Margao - from October 6 to 28.
(With PTI Inputs)