India will host the U-17 Women’s World Cup in 2020, FIFA confirmed on Friday.
“We have decided that India will host the next U-17 Women’s World Cup in 2020,” FIFA president Gianni Infantino said after the FIFA Council met in Miami.
This will be the second FIFA tournament that India will host, after hosting the U-17 Men’s World Cup in 2017, where England beat Spain 5-2 in the final in Kolkata. This will be the seventh edition of the U-17 Women’s World Cup, and the second in Asia after Jordan hosted the 2016 edition, which was won by North Korea, the only nation with two titles in the history of the event.
France and India were the only two countries that declared interest in hosting the tournament when the bidding process began in July last year. India had also expressed interest in hosting the U-20 Women’s World Cup along with South Korea during the bidding process.
India’s place in the FIFA (senior) women’s team ranking is 62. Among AFC nations, they are ranked 12th — behind Thailand, Vietnam, Myanmar, Jordan and Iran, among others. There is an Indian Women’s League, which has come through two hard seasons with fewer than 10 teams in both editions, and junior and sub-junior women’s national championships. However, there is very little money in women’s football, and neither a stable club structure nor a sustainable competitive calendar.
The U-17 tournament began in 2008, and was hosted by New Zealand. Spain are the current holders, they beat Mexico 2-1 in the final in Uruguay last year — the first time they won the tournament to become the fifth country to win the U-17 World Cup.
Asian teams are the most successful teams in the tournament, with Japan (2014) and South Korea (2010) winning it once each, apart from the two won by North Korea. France (2012) and Spain (2018) and the only non-Asians teams to have won the tournament.
The men’s U-17 team became the first Indian team to feature in a FIFA event in 2017. The 2020 edition will also be a debut for the women’s U-17 team, who would have had a tough time qualifying for the event from the Asian Football Confederation (AFC).
India’s only qualification to the AFC U-16 Women’s Championship, which serves as the qualifier for the U-17 World Cup, was in the inaugural edition in South Korea in 2005. India had performed creditably, beating Indonesia 6-0, losing 6-4 to Thailand despite leading 4-3 at one stage, apart from losing 7-0 to the hosts. The current U-16 team narrowly failed to qualify for the 2019 AFC Championships, beating Hong Kong and Pakistan, but failing to advance due to a defeat to Mongolia and a draw against group winners Laos in their final game, in Ulanbaatar last September.
During the council, FIFA also approved working with Qatar to explore expanding the 2022 World Cup to 48 teams by adding at least one more country in the Persian Gulf to host matches.