Hosting of FIFA U-17 World Cup may pave way for pre-season EPL matches in India

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Hosting of FIFA U-17 World Cup may pave way for pre-season EPL matches in India

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SportsCafe Desk

08/02/2017

India will host the FIFA U-17 World Cup in October this year and the infrastructure for the event could pave the way for hosting pre-season English Premier League matches. Sports Secretary Injeti Srinivas discussed the idea with English Premier League’s International Relations Manager Tim Vine.

India is all set to host the U-17 FIFA World Cup for the first time in October this year and all the arrangements for the event are almost done. The U-17 FIFA World Cup could be followed by India hosting pre-season friendlies between various English Premier League clubs for the first time ever. Sports Secretary Injeti Srinivas met English Premier League’s International Relations Manager Tim Vine on his visit to the UK in this month and discussed the idea.

“A number of states have shown keen interest in hosting Premier League matches. It’s very much on the cards. The ministry will not be involved in conducting the matches, but we will encourage it,” Srinivas told Indian Express.

The pre-season friendlies are played during the months of June and July before the commencement of the season in August and over the past few years playing friendlies in different countries and continents has become a huge spectacle. 

All the clubs that feature in the English Premier League have played a match on foreign soil this year. Arsenal and Chelsea kicked off their season in Beijing while Manchester United played in the US. Liverpool toured Hong Kong and their cross-town rivals featured in a game in Tanzania. The English Premier League Asia Trophy has also become popular in the recent times and was played in Hong Kong this year featuring Liverpool, Leicester City, Crystal Palace and West Bromwich Albion.  

There are a lot of factors that come into play while deciding on the destination where the club will tour during its off-season and a majority of them are commercial in nature. The Premier League has an estimated viewership of 150 million per season in India and the Indian football fans are known to revere the EPL clubs opening a huge market for the organisers in India. Various clubs run academies in India but the poor infrastructure for the game in the past has forced the clubs to keep the teams away.

However, it is all set to change as stadiums in six cities have been revamped to host FIFA U-17 World Cup games.

“India has a huge fan base, so this opportunity can be used to promote the sport further. Also, because of the under-17 World Cup, our stadiums and training facilities have improved. So we can put them to good use,” Srinivasan said.

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