Posted: 10/16/2017


          How many of you remember the award winning 1992 movie CITY OF JOY about a Texas doctor called Max ( Patrick Swayze) who was robbed and beaten in KOLKATA, the former British Empire city. He was brought to a home in the stinking, warren of the poorest local unwanted area, to be looked after in the The City of Joy, and how he helped turn his life around. What a delightful story.

          Well, Kolkata is one of the six cities hosting the current FIFA u17's World Cup..and what a success so far, at the gate, in the media but not so good for the home team. India's matches have attracted average cowds of 47,000 and total first round contests over 800,000, three times a previous tournament in Chile and even more than a recent ICC World Cricket World Cup.

         Organizers are so pleased that they have applied to host the FIFA u20's World Cup in 2019  when more Indian cities want to host matches. In a country of 1.4 billion people, it is worth noting that the population increases by 330,000 EVERY EIGHT DAYS..the TOTAL population of smallest World Cup qualifier ever-ICELAND !!

          India finished bottom of the 4 team group and scored only one goal, but progress is being made with infrastructure, coaching, media, sponsor and fan interest. Guwahati, Mumbai, Kochi, New Delhi, Goa and Kolkata.are the host cities. Unfortunately the money spent the last couple of years on this group is not nearly enough. Not much spent on much younger players and leagues and teenage years too old to start. Even worse for Indian women's football, who have only played one match in the last 4 years.

         Esther Stabili, a Swiss schoolteacher, became the first woman to referee in a Fifa World Cup in a male competition in 16 years . She refereed the Japan v New Caledonia match 1-1. and the first ever goal by the Oceania team at a FIFA final. Also 6 other women have worked at the tournament as 4th officials.

            One thing you would NOT expect is a case of ticket touting by volunteer officials at this World Cup.  According to Tournament Director JAVIER CEPPI seven people, including 3 volunteers, were arrested by local police for selling tickets on the black market..Sounds like something a FIFA Ex-Co might do !!!  Bidham Nagar police, near the Salt Lake Stadium in Kolkata made the arrests when matches were in  progress.

           The Salt Lake Stadium seats 68,000 and will host the final, and has been known to have had 100,000 spectators at league matches in the past, prior to well needed and safety improvements.  Crowds have been very large so far, and the final has been a sell-out for months. is a useful source of information. India's senior team, the Blue Tigers,  are now 105th in the FIFA rankings..up 2 places from last month and one rung below Zimbabwe and one above Niger, after their recent 4-1 win over Macau in the AFC Asian Cup 2019 qualifier last week. They now qualify for the finals in UAE.and are ranked 17th in Asia. They are coached by Englishman Stephen Constantine.

         India is also known as the home of the hapless owners of Blackburn Rovers The Venkys', a poultry conglomerate who are running the famous old East Lancashire club into the ground. £100 million in debts and wages the club cannot afford, BUT, thats another story.

        Just watched the first two matches of the Round of 16. Germany beat Colombia 4-0, followed by USA 5 v Paraguay 0 in New Delhi. A hat trick came from Tim Weah, whose famous dad George Weah is in a run off for President of Liberia.