Following discussions with FIFA, The All India Football Federation (AIFF) announced in a statement that the Under-17 Women’s World Cup, scheduled to be held next year (after postponement) has been cancelled. India has been awarded the hosting rights for the 2022 edition. The Under-20 Women’s World Cup also stands cancelled.
The World Cup, which was to be held in November 2020 as per the earlier schedule, was postponed due to the Covid-19 pandemic. FIFA revised the original schedule and the tournament was to be held in February and March 2021 in India.
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“In light of not being able to host the tournament next year, FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup taking place in India in 2022 comes as a delightful silver lining,” said Praful Patel in the official statement announcing the cancellation of the 2020  edition.
“Following discussions with FIFA, we agreed that hosting the tournament without proper qualifications and without spectators led to more uncertainty, and it would have taken away from our objective of developing and promoting women’s football by hosting the competition in such circumstances,” he added.
“We now have a unique opportunity to start afresh and still have a considerable headstart from the work that has been already put in. We thank FIFA for its support so far and now eagerly look forward to 2022. The journey we have made so far has given our women footballers confidence to compete at the highest level, and we are committed to steering women’s football in the right direction to ensure it achieves the heights it deserves,” he said.
Mr. Patel’s statement, or indeed that of Tournament Director of the Local Organising Committee, Roma Khanna, failed to clarify if players who would’ve been allowed to feature in this edition will be allowed to participate in 2022. Players born between 1 January 2003 and 31 December 2005 would have qualified to play in the 2020 edition of the tournament. In case the rules do not accommodate them, it stands to reason (and is perhaps not an exaggeration) to say that a generation of Indian players will lose out on a massive opportunity.
Additionally it is unclear if a new round of qualifiers will be held for the 2022 tournament. India, of course, will qualify automatically as hosts.
Qualifiers for CAF (Africa), CONCACAF (North and Central America) and CONMEBOL (South America) had not been conducted due to the Covid-19 pandemic. UEFA (Europe) cancelled their qualifiers earlier this year, nominating Spain, England and Germany (as the highest-ranked teams) for the World Cup.
India were awarded the hosting rights for the 2022 AFC Women’s Asian Cup earlier this year. This ‘postponement’ means two women’s football events will be held in the country in the same year. While the federation has duly expressed excitement over this, it is important to note that ever since the lockdown has been eased there has been no conversation about restart of organising of women’s football in the country at all.
Women footballers have been training of their own accord, but the federation itself has not revealed any plans to hold the Nationals, any junior tournaments or provided any clarity on the next edition of the Indian Women’s League (IWL).
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