The FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup, which was originally scheduled to be held later this year in India, has been moved back to early 2021, the world football governing body stated on Tuesday. The age eligibility criteria for the tournament will remain the same, FIFA added. The tournament will now be held – subject to further monitoring – from February 17 to March 7 in 2021, as against the originally scheduled dates of November 2 to 21 this year. FIFA had earlier pushed back the tournament owing to the novel coronavirus pandemic, which had forced the postponement of five continental qualifying events.
So far, Japan and North Korea have qualified from the two available slots for Asian teams, with India qualifying for the main tournament as hosts. The other 13 spots are still up for grabs.
Players born on or between January 1, 2003 and December 31, 2005 will continue to be eligible to play at the tournament despite the postponement, meaning it will now be a de facto ‘under-18’ World Cup.
Five venues – Ahmedabad, Bhubaneswar, Guwahati, Kolkata and Navi Mumbai – had already been finalised to hold games during the tournament, with the opening game being allotted to Guwahati and the final to Navi Mumbai.
“All the host cities have put in a lot of effort and commitment so far, and we are happy that the new dates will allow them to make up for the lost time and provide momentum going forward,” the local organising committee of the tournament in India stated in a press release following the announcement by FIFA.
“I assure full cooperation and support to make it a grand success,” Union Sports Minister Kiren Rijiju tweeted.
Swedish coach Thomas Dennerby, who is in charge of the Indian team for the tournament, said the postponement was understandable under the circumstances. “The new dates have been announced and we look forward to it. We would have been ready by November in any case. But with the Championship having being postponed, it allows us some extra time to further improve,” he said.