India will get know whether they will be able to host the FIFA U-20 World Cup in 2019 by early next year, President Gianni Infantino said after a council meeting here on Friday.
“Two World Cups were held in Asia. We had a very successful U-20 World Cup (in South Korea) and a successful U-17. We have now recieved several requests from several countries to host the competition in 2019.
“This will now be analysed by the FIFA administration and presented to council for decision for 2019. After 2019, maybe we will change the complete format of our competitions and then it can be interesting for many countries,” Infantino told reporters here.
India made a formal bid to host the U-20 World Cup in September after submitting an expression of interest to host the tournament.
The FIFA Council is expected to announce the winning bid by March in 2018.
The previous edition of the tournament was held in South Korea and FIFA is likely to take the tournament to a separate continent but Infantino did not make any such comment here.
Asked if after hosting a successful U-17 World Cup, where the attendances have been staggering and on the cusp of creating a world record, the chances get enhanced for India to host the U-20 tournament, Infantino said: “I don’t know. Certainly, that is an element which will be considered. There are other elements as well which will be considered.
“We expect to take a decision at the beginning of next year for 2019, and then for 2020 and onwards we take a decision in October 2018.”
Infantino said India’s passion for football was true and it will benefit not only the country but the world at large if football grows here.
“It’s not just about organising a World Cup. It’s about leaving a legacy and putting the football culture in the heads of all the Indians.
“We saw when the semi-final was moved to Kolkata and the ticketing system broke down because we had 100s and 1000s of requests. But then you see the passion, this is true passion,” he added.
Infantino was also asked the motivation behind FIFA investing heavily on India.
“India represents one sixth of the world population. India is a country or continent which is a sports country… In football, because of the benefits the game brings and it’s not just about organising a short competition, it is about bringing boys, the youth and women from schools to do some activities on football pitches.
“Teaching them values of football respect for referees and rules. We see the potential in India. We have to take our task at FIFA seriously of developing football. Football has to be sustained in India because the whole world will benefit from it and not only India.”
On the Indian team’s performance in U-17, Infantino said though the gulf in class was evident, it was not as big as it was a few years ago.
Infantino hoped the final and third-place clash between England and Spain and between Brazil and Mali would break the all-time attendance record for a youth tournament set in the 2011 edition of the U-20 event in Colombia.
The record is 13,09,880. In the inaugural U-17 World Cup in China in 1985, 12,30,976 was the overall figure.
“Hopefully tomorrow we would achieve what we had hoped for. A success for the public, for the teams and the all-time attendance record for an U-17 World Cup held by China in 1985 will be certainly broken tomorrow with more than 1.2 million tickets sold.
“India could even beat the absolute record in the Colombia U-20 World Cup which was 1.3 million… It would be a nice achievement,” Infantino said.