The FIFA Under-17 Women’s World Cup in India will kick off in February next year.
Earlier slated to be held in November this year, it was postponed last month with the new dates, February 17 to March 7, 2021, announced on Tuesday by football’s official governing body.
Despite the postponement, FIFA mandated that the original eligibility criteria will be retained with players born between January 1, 2003, and December 31, 2005, allowed to participate.
The decision was taken after an assessment of the impact of the coronavirus pandemic and taking into account the recommendations made by the FIFA-Confederations COVID-19 Working Group.
Before footballing activities were put on hold due to the coronavirus outbreak, only the Asian leg of the qualifiers could be held. Japan and North Korea have already qualified alongside hosts India.
Thirteen slots still remain to be filled with qualifiers for Europe, South America, Africa, Central and North America, Oceania and the Caribbean having to be put on hold due to the pandemic.
Full government cooperation
The All India Football Federation (AIFF) and Local Organising Committee (LOC) clarified the revised dates take into account the time needed to complete remaining qualification tournaments and the best possible conditions in the country to host the tournament successfully.
"We are now looking ahead and hoping to host a wonderful tournament that will give women’s football in India, the perfect platform to grow and develop," read the AIFF-LOC joint statement.
"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," it added, emphasising on the health, safety and security of everyone involved.
Indian sports minister Kiren Rijiju also promised the government’s full cooperation to make the tournament a success.
The tournament is set to be India’s second foray into hosting a major FIFA tournament, having successfully conducted the men's FIFA U-17 World Cup in 2017.