India to host Under-17 FIFA World Cup in 2017

India have won the right to host the 2017 Under-17 FIFA World Cup. This will be the biggest football tournament ever on Indian soil. The All India Football Federation submitted India's bid to host the under-17 event only in November after obtaining necessary guarantees on tax exemption and security from the Union government. The Under-17 World Cup happens every two years. UAE hosted this year while Chile will stage the 2015 event.

The FIFA executive committee awarded the tournament to India after a meeting in the eastern Brazilian city of Salvador da Bahia on Thursday. The bidding countries are required to submit written guarantees on tax exemption for broadcasters and sponsors, foreign exchange remittances, security, transport and accommodation of players, and visa, among others.

India's first bid in January was rejected due to insufficient assurances from the government. But in June this year, the sports ministry backed AIFF's ambitious plans. While the expenses of hosting the event will be borne by FIFA and AIFF, the government assured additional financial assistance. "While the expenditure for upgradation of stadia (Rs 95 crore) will be provided as additional central assistance to the state governments, a sum of Rs 25 crore is kept as a contingency to ensure smooth conduct of the tournament," said a sports ministry statement. The AIFF has proposed holding of matches in five states -- Delhi, West Bengal, Maharashtra, Karnataka and one among Assam, Goa and Kerala.

The Under-17 FIFA World Cup will be the biggest international soccer event ever on Indian soil. Although the AIFF has hosted several international tournaments both at national and club levels, it has never hosted a FIFA event. FIFA president Sepp Blatter had urged AIFF to bid for the Under-17 championship when he visited India last year. The Asian Football Confederation had also backed India's application.

India, FIFA ranking 148, have hardly been a force in world football. In November, the national team beat Nepal 2-0 in a friendly and drew 1-1 with the Philippines in another friendly assignment. The only time India broke into the top 100, was a 94th place in February 1996. India's lowest has been 169 in September 2012. The Under-17 World Cup is expected to bring football back into focus in a cricket-mad nation.

In a recent visit, FIFA President Sepp Blatter and then his secretary Jerome Valcke, had supported India hosting the event, provided it builds the required infrastructure and facilities