FIFA: On opening day, Delhi kids left sick, thirsty, strugglingLast updated on Oct 07, 2017, 12:03 pm
During the 2010 Commonwealth Games, India was left embarrassed as stands stood empty during events: many locals had chosen to give the games a miss.
To avoid a similar debacle during the FIFA U-17 tournament, the government hatched a creative plan: it distributed 27,000 tickets to students in Delhi-NCR for free.
However, the kids were left wanting a much more basic amenity: water.
Turns out, the capital isn't crazy for football
Delhi is not a footballing stronghold in India. India's matches were shifted from Navi Mumbai to the capital as the PM wanted to attend the opening game.
It even registered the second-worst sales among the six host cities: about 27,000 out of 50,000 available seats were sold for the first match.
To avoid an embarrassment, the Centre distributed thousands of free tickets to school children.
So what went wrong?
Thousands of shouting kids were brought in on opening day as India faced off USA.
But soon they were left thirsty: they weren't allowed to carry bottles inside and there was no arrangement for water in the stands.
Finally, some drank whatever was left in 20L cans lying near dustbins. Some were heard telling vendors: "We'll pay Rs. 200 but please give us water."
Water wasn't the only thing missing
Some children were seen roaming about the stadium trying to find medical assistance: one was seen helping his feverish friend.
Another was heard asking people, "Trying to find water since 20 minutes. Is there any water dispenser you can guide us to?"
Food packets were delayed at security and arrived as late as 9pm.
Despite attempts, many attendees were left harassed on opening day.