India has withdrawn its candidacy to host the 2021 U17 FIFA Women’s World Cup with reports indicating that the All India Football Federation (AIFF) does not consider it safe to host the tournament in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.
The U17 Women World Cup was originally scheduled for November 2020, before it was postponed to February 17 to March 7, 2021, owing to the coronavirus pandemic outbreak.
Ahmedabad, Navi Mumbai, Bhubaneswar, Guwahati and Kolkata were selected to be the host cities for the tournament.
Ghanaian journalist and Women Sports Advocate Ayishatu Zakaria Ali reported that due to a spike in COVID-19 cases in India and the continued lockdown of sports activities, AIFF has asked FIFA to consider a different host nation for the tournament.
“India pulls out of hosting the U17 FIFA Women’s World Cup due to a rise in COVID-19 cases,” Ayishatu Zakaria tweeted.
“Ghana has asked Ghana’s U20 and U17 Women’s national team to go home awaiting new directives. Which country will bid to host the tournament?” the tweet continued.
Kick442 also earlier reported that the Cameroon U17 team’s camp had also been called off as communication had reached the country that their final round qualifier against Uganda due in October was postponed.
An official communication is yet to come out from FIFA over the future of the tournament and the qualifiers, but further reports indicate that FIFA’s working group is considering different alternatives as per the future of the U17 Women World Cup
With India now pulling out of hosting the tournament, a couple of countries are also being lined up as replacements including France who hosted the Women World Cup in 2019 though no official bids have been received or solicited for by FIFA at the moment.
The coronavirus pandemic continues to scourge the world with over 40 million people affected by the pandemic while up to 1.1 million deaths worldwide have been attributed to COVID-19.
India is the second most affected country by the disease in the world behind the USA.
The country which has a total population of over 1.3 billion people has reported over 7.5 million positive cases with 114,629 deaths reported by the country’s health ministry.