“The existing venues will have to be ready 9-12 months before the tournament and for brand new stadia, they will have to be ready even earlier. So, it will have to be according to individual venues. They will have to be tested for operational readiness and for training purposes,” FIFA Director of Competitions Colin Smith said at a media briefing.

Smith, who was in India along with Under-17 World Cup event manager Jaime Yarza, said his coming down to the country was not for an inspection but for a series of meetings with the Local Organising Committee and the All India Football Federation.

“Ours is not an inspection visit. In terms of inspection, we will do it later in the year and early next year,” he said.

Smith said the date of the tournament and the timings of 52 matches to be played among 24 countries, including hosts India, were yet to be finalised.

“The dates of the tournament will have to be proposed by Local Organising Committee and approved by FIFA. The timing of the matches will have to be decided after consultations with the tournament broadcasters,” he said.

The 23-day tournament is likely to be held in the later half of 2017. Smith said venues with natural grass will be favoured but did not rule out the ones with artificial turf.

The AIFF had earlier said that eight venues have been shortlisted from which six will be selected for hosting the tournament, but Tournament Director Javier Ceppi said that Chennai’s Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium will also be considered.

Each of the six venues selected are expected to host matches of a group. The 24 teams will be divided into six groups. The tournament will need to have 24 training  pitches — four for each host city — but the LOC is yet to sign contracts of these training venues.

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