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FIFA U17 Women’s World Cup in India set to be postponed

FIFA U17 Women’s World Cup in India set to be postponed

Sayan Chatterjee

Published: 19 Sep 2020 9:05 AM GMT

The U17 Women’s World Cup, which was rescheduled to take place sometime between February and March 2021, may suffer yet another setback with the identity of the qualifying teams still unclear less than 5 months before the tournament kicks-off. The 7th edition of the flagship women’s tournament was supposed to be held in November 2020 across five venues in India before the Covid-19 situation foiled those plans. New dates were announced thereafter but it now seems that the global pandemic may still play a detrimental role in the organization of the event, according to a report in Times of India.

India was chosen as the host nation for the tournament at the FIFA Council meeting in Miami last year after their hugely successful organization of the U17 Men’s World Cup in 2017. It has to be noted that as of now, there are no major issues regarding India’s ability to make all the necessary arrangements within the stipulated time period. The All India Football Federation (AIFF) has already announced the dates for the upcoming ISL and I-League seasons and work at the venues and training facilities selected for the World Cup has been progressing quite smoothly. The major roadblock in this case is the fact that most of the confederations, except the Asian Football Confederation (AFC), have not been able to conduct the qualifiers for the tournament proper.

The AFC qualifiers have been the only ones that could be conducted as scheduled, with Japan and DPR Korea emerging as the two qualifying countries. Europe (UEFA) has already decided to cancel the qualifiers and have nominated Spain, England and Germany as the qualifying teams based on their ranking. Oceania (OFC) did something similar when they nominated New Zealand for the finals without the qualifying tournament taking place. Worse still, Africa (CAF), North and Central America (CONCACAF) and South America (CONMEBOL) are yet to conduct the qualifiers with no decision forthcoming on which teams will feature in the World Cup from these regions.

Although CAF and CONMEBOL have rescheduled their qualifiers between November and December this year, there has been no clarity on the same from CONCACAF. With the added complications of conducting the qualifiers in bio-secure bubbles and continuous testing of the players and support staff, as well as the necessary quarantining periods involved in case there are positive test results, it leaves very little leeway for teams in terms of getting themselves ready ahead of the scheduled February start date. It remains to be seen what the FIFA Council decides after considering all the different variables that are at play in this situation and whether India’s plans of hosting only their second ever FIFA tournament comes to fruition without any further delays.

Also read: ISL: Player and coach guidelines for 2020-21 — All you need to know

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