India gives away 27,000 tickets to avoid World Cup ‘embarrassment’

Indian policemen stand near the poster of FIFA U-17 football World Cup mascot at The D.Y. Patil stadium in Navi Mumbai on Thursday. (AFP)
Updated 06 October 2017
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India gives away 27,000 tickets to avoid World Cup ‘embarrassment’

NEW DELHI: India has given away 27,000 tickets to the opening games of the FIFA U-17 World Cup to fill empty stands, an official said Friday, in a desperate bid to avoid an embarrassing repeat of the 2010 Commonwealth Games.
The under-17 World Cup, which kicks off on Friday, marks India’s first attempt at hosting a FIFA tournament, but sales for the high-profile event have been poor, despite some seats costing less than a dollar.
Organizers are now scrambling to ensure that the 56,000-capacity Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in New Delhi appears packed when Prime Minister Narendra Modi attends the opening games which will see India play the United States.
“We have given away 27,000 tickets to schools around the Delhi region and will also provide pick and drop facility. It will be embarrassing for us if the stadium looks empty,” an organizing committee member told AFP on condition of anonymity.
The event, which runs until Oct. 28, has been dogged by bad news, with Greenpeace issuing a report Wednesday that said the poor quality of air in India’s pollution-clogged cities poses a “serious health risk” to players and spectators during the tournament.
Twenty-four nations are competing in the event, which is being held in New Delhi, Mumbai, Goa, Kochi, Guwahati and Kolkata.
Greenpeace said all the six cities “share dangerous levels of air pollution” but singled out New Delhi as the venue with the highest risk.
“Air pollution levels during the Indian tournament could be significantly worse than during the 2008 Beijing Olympics,” the report warned.
India’s capital will host its last game of the tournament on Oct. 16, just before pollution levels spike around the Diwali festival, when Hindus celebrate by setting off huge amounts of fireworks.
Media reports said matches were deliberately kept out of Delhi after Oct. 16 because of pollution fears.
India’s Supreme Court has ordered authorities to take precautions ahead of the festival, and measures under consideration include pulling some cars off roads and closing polluting industries.
World Cup organizers did not comment on the Greenpeace report.
The event is among India’s highest-profile global tournaments after the Commonwealth Games in New Delhi in 2010 which were meant to showcase the country’s status as an emerging power but instead left memories of shoddy venues, empty stadiums and massive budget overruns.


France defense excels in narrow 1-0 victory over Peru in World Cup

Updated 21 June 2018
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France defense excels in narrow 1-0 victory over Peru in World Cup

YEKATERINBURG: With all their attacking talent, France proved they also has class in defense.
Other coaches might envy Didier Deschamps, who has a forward line bursting with skill, speed and goals. But Peru coach Ricardo Gareca looked at the other end Thursday after his team lost 1-0.
"I think France did some outstanding work of defense," said Gareca, whose team was eliminated while the French advanced to the knockout stage.
"Credit needs to be given to France, it's not that Peru fell short," Gareca said. "Unlike their other games, France had very strong tactical discipline to neutralize Peru. Something that wasn't visible in their other matches."
After Peru lost their opening game to Denmark 1-0, they needed a least a point against France to stay in contention following a 36-year absence from the tournament. With striker Paolo Guerrero back in the starting lineup, Peru's players used any and every opportunity to put France under pressure.
It didn't work.
Deschamps made two tactical changes for the game, using Olivier Giroud and Blaise Matuidi in the starting line-up. The result upfront was visible. France were more fluid than in the 2-1 victory over Australia and the cooperation between midfielders Paul Pogba and Ngolo Kante with the attackers resulted in a number of scoring opportunities.
But when Peru were on a desperate attack, they all were ready to help at the back.
It was not just defenders Benjamin Pavard, Raphael Varane, Samuel Umtiti and Lucas Hernandez who were solid for the second straight game.
"It doesn't come only from the French defense," Deschamps said. "The attacking players did what they had to do. They made an effort for the team to be compact, to work together. It was very important to have very solid defense."
France neutralized Guerrero to a single chance in the first half. But goalkeeper Hugo Lloris, who made his 100th international appearance, saved his low shot from close range.
In the second half, France kept Peru at a distance, allowing mostly only long range attempts on goal.
Even such an offensive ace as Kylian Mbappe, who scored the winning goal in the first half, came to help.
"If the team needs it, you need to sacrifice yourself," Mbappe said. "Today, sometimes we didn't need to be up the field ... this is what I did."