Delhi could end up losing the chance of hosting marquee matches of the U-17 World Cup admist concerns of “extremely high” pollution levels in the city. Javier Ceppi did not confirm that Delhi could be scrapped as a venue for the event but said that it could miss out on knockout games.
Delhi had been named as one of the six venues for the first ever official FIFA tournament that will kick off in Delhi on October 6. FIFA considering how the pollution levels rise in Delhi. Navi Mumbai, Margao, Kochi, Guwahati, and Kolkata have meanwhile been given the go ahead by FIFA to host the matches.
Ceppi, who is the tournament director for the tournament, said that FIFA has studied the air quality statistics for Delhi over a sample period of the last six to seven years and will take the final decision based on the numbers.
“The match schedule is not finalized yet. One of the reasons for that is the pollution. And pollution in Delhi is a serious concern. We all know this,” Ceppi told The Indian Express in an exclusive interview.
October is decent, you can play. Pollution shoots to a level that is extremely unhealthy. So would that mean that it may risk the capacity of Delhi hosting ‘marquee matches’ or further into the tournament? We don’t know yet.”
FIFA will send over an inspection committee to survey all the venues again next month and Delhi’s fate is likely to be decided then.
“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.