U17 World-Cup awarded to India

By | December 8, 2013

Despite football’s massive popularity in the world, the world’s four largest countries by population are, for the most part, quite disinterested in the game. The Chinese prefer basketball, the Indians are obsessed with Cricket, the United States has it’s Big 4 sports (Basketball, Baseball, American Football and Ice Hockey), while Indonesia loves its Badminton. If we go down the list, we find that other highly populated countries such as Pakistan and Bangladesh don’t have successful soccer teams.  We also find Brazil, however, which has been the most successful team in World Cup history.

It’s perhaps because of these untapped markets that FIFA has made a large push to spread the sport in countries where it is not popular. The most obvious example of this was the award of the 2022 World Cup to Qatar. But the 2013 Fifa u-17 World Cup was also held in the United Arab Emirates, signaling that FIFA wants to spread the game in the Middle East.


In late November, the 2017 U-17 World Cup was awarded to India. As hosts, India will qualify automatically, the first time an Indian football team of any sort has been invited to a FIFA event since the 1950 World Cup when the team refused to play.

This could mark the start of a boom in interest in football in India. The sport has always been a distant second to cricket in the subcontinent, but if the government invests in improving the quality of soccer infrastructure and improves the youth leagues, India may have a decent showing at the event. In a country devoid of much athletic prowess, the U17 World Cup has a good chance of exciting millions of people to play the game.

As India grows in economic status, FIFA’s push may open a huge new market for future growth.

6 thoughts on “U17 World-Cup awarded to India

  1. merdizakaria%gmail.com@duke.edu

    Great post. The opportunity to host FIFA events can definitely help increase the popularity of soccer in countries like India. However, I wouldn’t say that awarding the 2022 World Cup to Qatar is a good example of this trend. Soccer is by far the most popular sport in the Arabian Gulf and these markets are anything but untapped. I believe the 2003 U19 World Cup was hosted in the UAE. Also, three editions of the FIFA Club World Cup were hosted in the MENA region and teams from the region (Raja, Al Nasr, Al Ahly, Attaraji, ESS …Etc) compete regularly in the competition.

  2. Pramuaji

    I think you’ve mistaken about Indonesia. Indonesians like badminton only occasionally. Usually it is when Indonesian badminton players gain achievements in an international level. But most of the time, Indonesians LOVE football. Not only do they love international football, they also love their local football.
    unfortunately, up to this day, they are still struggling with mismanagement of their football industry.

  3. Thousif

    It seems to be a dream to me. FIFA hosting the U-17 worldcup in INDIA a country of poor, innocent and beggar politicians. By this tournament our blind beliver of cricket will come to know about a new world of sports SOCCER. Which is a very popular game played, watched, enjoyed and loved by the world except the poor citizens of INDIA. I am proud to be an INDIAN of its rich heritage, culture, nature beauty ……. But ashamed to say the world as an INDIAN because of selfish politicians who are under-estimating other popular sports and encouraging only the foolish cricket in INDIA. They have changed cricket instead of HOCKEY as INDIAN NATIONAL GAME. Atleast the youngsters should give the interest and passion to such thing. I really thankfull to FIFA for this wonderful job and let the INDIAN open their eyes.

  4. Vishnu Kadiyala Post author

    I think that perhaps it was due to timing- by the time soccer was growing in popularity in the rest of the world, cricket already had its stars in India. Ranjitsinhji played for England though he was an Indian (India was a British colony then). No equivalent Indian stood out in soccer, so cricket took the lead

    Though soccer remains very popular in certain parts of India-West Bengal and Kerala come to mind- Perhaps soccer’s popularity is helped by having poweful trade unions?

  5. Ajay Thomas

    I think this is a great post along with Sanket’s previous post on how Manchester United and Liverpool are trying to tap into Indian talent. It would indeed be interesting to note how things work out in this field in the next few years. One point that perhaps needs to be explored is why football lost out to cricket. Is there a cultural factor to it?

  6. Vinay Kumar

    I think this is a perfect example of the discussion from Sanket’s previous post on the need for India to have a structured program. By awarding India the U-17 World Cup, I think FIFA and India are signaling their commitment to developing youth talent and making official programs that will 1) make football more popular in the country and 2) help kids learn the fundamentals of the sport the right way and receive world-class training. Exciting to see what happens over the next few years for India.


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