India will host the FIFA Under-17 World Cup football in 2017 with the world governing body today awarding the right to host the prestigious tournament to the country in its executive committee meeting in Salvador da Bahia in Brazil.
On a landmark day for the country's football, India beat other bidders South Africa, Ireland and Uzbekistan in the fight to host the 24-nation biennial mega event.
By virtue of being the host country, India will take part in the tournament for the first time in its history.
"Yes, India has won the right to host the 2017 Under-17 World Cup Football. It's official now," All India Football Federation General Secretary Kushal Das told PTI.
This will the biggest ever football tournament India will be hosting and the first FIFA event in the country's history. India has hosted Asian Football Co federation's Youth Championships (Under-20) in 2006 and then the AFC Challenge Cup in 2008 but never any FIFA tournament.
The date of the tournament will be decided later. United Arab Emirates hosted the tournament this year while Chile will be the host country for the 2015 edition.
India, whose submission of final bid documents were initially in doubt due to delay in getting government guarantees on various subjects, will need six to eight host cities for the mega event. New Delhi, Kolkata, Mumbai, Chennai, Guwahati, Margao, Kochi and Bangalore could be in the running the host the matches.
From the very beginning, India's chances of winning the hosting right have been strong as it was FIFA which mooted the idea of the country hosting the mega event. The world body felt that if India can host the mega event, it could go a long way in lifting the profile of the game in the second most populous country in the world.
In a visit to the country, FIFA President Sepp Blatter and then his secretary Jerome Valcke, have supported India hosting the event, provided it builds the required infrastructure and facilities.
But, the journey has not been a smooth one as India's initial bid in January was rejected due to want of clear guarantees from the government on