New Delhi (AFP) – Spanish football legend Carles Puyol launched ticket sales for the Under-17 World Cup in New Delhi Monday, as India prepares to host the FIFA event — its first ever — in October.
The former Barcelona defender is on his first visit to India to promote the hotly-anticipated tournament, and enthralled fans in a friendly game with children at Delhi’s Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium on Monday.
Puyol, 39, handed over the first ceremonial ticket to Gouri Bhaduri, granddaughter-in-law of Shibdas Bhaduri — captain of the historic Indian club Mohun Bagan who defeated an English side for the first time in 1911.
Ticket sales will go live at exactly 19:11 Indian time on Tuesday, paying tribute to the year in which Indian football made history.
Puyol said he looked forward to returning to India for the U-17 tournament, which was founded in 1985 and produced many footballing greats including Neymar and Ronaldinho.
“I am extremely happy to be here in India. It’s my first time here. It’s a great occasion,” said Puyol, who was part of the World Cup-winning Spanish side in 2010.
“I am here now for this very important milestone, the ticket launch, and I also hope to be here in October 2017 when the World Cup happens,” he added.
Top sides England and Germany have already booked their World Cup spots after progressing to the semi-finals of the UEFA U-17 European Championship in Croatia.
The two teams join Spain and Turkey in qualifying for India 2017, with one remaining European spot still up for grabs.
The tournament will be held across six venues from October 6-28 with the football-crazy Indian city of Kolkata hosting the final.
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