Kolkata: The Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Kochi is in danger of losing the U-17 World Cup matches after the shop-owners of the complex refused to close down their shops during the FIFA tournament, despite orders from the Greater Cochin Development Authority (GCDA).
The owners of the JLN Stadium, GCDA had let out 236 shops out of the total 280 in the complex. But the FIFA in it’s contract with the stadium authorities had mentioned that it wanted the shops to be shut before the October 25 deadline date.
The shop owners instead approached the Kerala High Court, who asked the GCDA for an explanation, in regard to the closing of the shops.
An official associated with the FIFA Local Organising Committee (LOC) as quoted by Hindustan Times said, “We have a contract with GCDA regulating the use of the JLN Stadium for the FIFA U-17 World Cup tournament and we have been given assurances by the State Government of Kerala that all contractual commitments and obligations will be respected.”
He further added, “If the shops are not closed down, the matches in Kochi will be in jeopardy.”
The Kerala government, in it’s reply to the court stated, that it had asked for the 236 shops in the stadium complex to be closed temporarily during the World Cup on safety grounds and also that the city might be in danger of losing the chance to host the matches, if it does not follow the FIFA safety guidelines. Such an issue could also hamper their chances of the city hosting any global event in the near future.
However, the court informed the government that though the U-17 World Cup is important, the livelihood of the shop owners should also be kept in mind.
It is to note that the tickets of the first match have been sold out and since the stadium has been built using the public fund, the safety of the public and their interests matter more than that of the interests of the few shopkeepers. The government wrote to the court, in its reply.
With over 40000 people set to attend the event, the district administration has to ensure the safety of the public and with these shops having live power connections and inflammable materials like cooking gas, it was unsafe for them to be operating while such an important event takes place, argued C S Sreekala, Dy. Secretary, Department of Local Self Government in the court, informed goal.com.
The tickets of the first match in the stadium between Brazil and Spain has already been sold out and with FIFA not ready to compromise with their safety guidelines, the GCDA will hope to resolve the issues as soon as possible.
The Kerala HC is expected to give it’s final verdict on the issue very soon.
The Kochi stadium is set to host a total of eight matches that includes the match between Brazil and Spain on the opening day. Moreover, with FIFA is set to take over the stadium on September 20,the authorities will certainly hope to find a way, to prevent the city from losing the match of the FIFA tournament.