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Fifa U-17 World Cup kicks off today, New Delhi's poor air quality a concern

It is for the first time that India is taking part in the FIFA U-17 World Cup as well as hosting the FIFA event

Agencies  |  New Delhi 

Fifa Under-17 team
Fifa Under-17 team. Photo courtesy: @Priyanshu2122 Twitter handle

As India U-17 football team gears up for U-17 World Cup that begins on Friday, environment NGO Greenpeace said today the level of coarse air pollutants PM10 "far exceeded" the safe levels in the host cities of the tournament last October.

The India squad

Goalkeepers: Dheeraj Singh, Prabhsukhan Gill, Sunny Dhaliwal

Defenders: Boris Singh, Jitendra Singh, Anwar Ali, Sanjeev Stalin, Hendry Antonay, Namit Deshpande

Midfielders: Suresh Singh, Ninthoinganba Meetei, Kiyam, Abhijit Sarkar, Komal Thatal, Lalengmawia, Jeakson Singh, Nongdamba Naorem, Rahul Kannoly Praveen, Md Shahjahan

The Greenpeace report came on a day the capital recorded 'poor' air quality for the second consecutive day. The NGO claimed high level of PM10 may "reduce" the quality of football played during the tournament.

According to the report, in October 2016, the average levels of PM10 - coarse particulates measuring less than 10 microns in diameter - were 304 and 100 microgrammes per cubic metre (ug/m3) in Delhi and Mumbai.

The 24-hour average prescribed standard of PM10 is 100 and the annual prescribed average is 60.

Delhi will co-host the tournament with Mumbai, Kochi, Margao (Goa), Guwahati and Kolkata.

"PM10 level on October 6 last year in Delhi was 234g/m3, and 320g/m3 on October 16 (when Delhi hosts the last tournament match this year).

"These values are over 4 times and 6 times above the World Health Organisation's limits of 50g/m3 over a 24-hour period, and over 2 and 3 times above India's PM10 standards of 100g/m3 (over a 24 hour period)," a Greenpeace India statement said.

Greenpeace executive Sunil Dahiya said such levels of air pollution could also reduce the quality of football played at the tournament.

"According to a study by the German League, football matches that take place during periods of heavy air pollution are played more slowly. The study also found that health impacts are strongest when PM10 concentration is above 50g/m3 and when players have fewer than five rest days between matches," he said.

Last month, in a series of meetings the Supreme Court-monitored Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority, had expressed concern over a possible spike in pollution levels during the world cup and had directed concerned agencies to take preventive measures.

India taking part in U-17 for the first time

It is for the first time that India is taking part in the U-17 World Cup as well as hosting the event.

India will become the fifth Asian country - after China, Japan, South Korea and UAE - to host the tournament which was started in 1985.

Football minnows India have been grouped alongside USA, Colombia and Ghana in Group A.

Speaking on the eve of India's first match against USA, India U-17 football team captain assured fans that they will play as a unit and will try to perform at their menacing best in the U-17 World Cup.

"We will try to give our hundred percent. This is the first time when we are holding world cup and our priority is to deliver our best and we will do it," Singh said.

"US is good team will try to give our best. We are glad that fans are giving support. However, our players know very well what they are gonna do tomorrow. We will work hard as we want to create history," he added.

President and cricket legend took to Twitter to say:

Meanwhile, coach said that it was a big moment for Indian football history and he was really excited to see how his team performs in the prestigious tournament.

"It's big event for India to participate in a football world cup. I am very excited. We have worked hard. This is the first step for India in world football," de Matos said.

Matos has already maintained that he wants to show the world that "the Indian team is as organized as the rest of the world and if we can show the world that we too can play football, it would be even better".

First Published: Fri, October 06 2017. 12:50 IST