Helping India deliver a successful Under 17 World Cup
India is an ambitious sporting nation. Whilst cricket remains the most popular and most played, over recent years there has been an explosion in interest in other sports. India now hosts a wide variety of sports leagues including kabaddi, tennis, badminton and hockey. Football is also growing in popularity with over 250 million fans across the country, two professional football leagues and a developing relationship with the English Premier League to support the development of referees and coaches. The profile of India as a footballing nation is growing exponentially.
In 2017, the eyes of the footballing world focused on India as it hosted the FIFA Under-17 World Cup across six venues and cities. To ensure that there were no major incidents in any of the stadiums, and that all spectators could experience a safe, welcoming environment, a stadium and security partnership between UEFA and the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) was established. The SGSA contributed to this partnership and played a significant role in the success of the tournament.
The SGSA were asked to support the local organising committee by inspecting the six match-hosting venues and calculate the maximum safe capacities of each venue in line with our best-practice guidance, the Guide to Safety at Sports Grounds. By undertaking the assessments, we could support the tournament committee to prepare various safety and security aspects for the tournament and help ensure a safe tournament for all spectators.
Three inspectors went to India and audited seven stadia across the breadth of the country. We looked at both the physical infrastructure (some stadia are being redeveloped) and also the safety management plans and practices.
We provided a set of strategic actions to help India prepare for the event, including, but not limited to:
- Creating multi-agency safety teams in each state hosting games
- Development of a multi-stakeholder training programme on safety management
- Developing national policy guidance on anti-social behavior to support local plans
Through our involvement, the tournament organising committee was able to elevate the safety of spectators as a priority and plan for the hosting of each match with the knowledge that the safe capacities of each stadium were underpinned by world-class expertise in sports ground safety.