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The FIFA U-17 World Cup 2017 will be held in India. Although the country has organised a wide variety of sporting events, ranging from the Asian Games to the Commonwealth Games and world championships in sports like cricket and field hockey, it will be the first time that the planet’s second most populous country will host a FIFA event.

As one of the many colonies of the British Empire, the history of football in India stretches back to the 19th Century. India’s oldest surviving clubs, Mohammedan Sporting and Mohun Bagan were formed just three decades after the first club in the world, Sheffield FC, was established. Indeed, India’s Durand Cup is the world’s third oldest football competition.

Just a year after gaining independence, the Indian football team took part in the 1948 London Olympics, their first major international tournament, and were invited to participate in the 1950 FIFA World Cup in Brazil.

The nation qualified regularly for the Olympics until 1960. The 1956 Melbourne Olympics saw the national football team finish a very respectable fourth. The main success for Indian football came in that era with gold medals at the Asian Games in New Delhi 1951 and Jakarta in 1962.

Currently, football is one of the most followed sports in India and is only behind cricket in terms of reputation and popularity. This has been the result of a series of initiatives and investments in the future of the sport.

The All India Football Federation has made a concerted effort to take Indian football forward by focusing on grassroots and youth development. It was with that strategy in mind that the AIFF bid to be the hosts of the FIFA U-17 World Cup 2017, which was approved by FIFA. In doing so, it became the first FIFA event to be held in the subcontinent.

The country
The seventh-largest country by area and the second-most populous with over 1.2 billion people, India is the world’s largest democracy. It is characterised by its diverse geography and is bounded by the Indian Ocean, the Arabian Sea & the Bay of Bengal. It shares land borders with six other countries.

A federal republic governed under a parliamentary system comprising 29 states and seven union territories, India is a pluralistic, multilingual, and a multi-ethnic society, one with a rich history in the beautiful game.

The economy of India is the seventh-largest economy in the world measured by nominal GDP and the third-largest by purchasing power parity (PPP). A member of BRICS and a developing economy with an average growth rate of approximately 7 per cent over the last two decades, it is classified as a newly industrialised country. 

In the last quarter of 2014, India's economy became the world's fastest growing major economy, overtaking the People's Republic of China. 

It also topped the World Bank’s growth outlook for 2015-16 for the first time and is expected to move further up in 2016-17.

Weather and tourism
Bound by the mighty Himalayas to the north, and the Bay Of Bengal and Arabian Sea to its East and West, India has a breathtaking variety of climatic regions, ranging from snow clad mountains to lush tropical forests and pristine beaches. It also is the home for some of the world’s most exotic fauna including the Bengal Tiger, The Asiatic Lion, the One Horned Rhinoceros and the Asian Elephant.  

It has a rich and diverse cultural heritage and stunning architectural wonders, from magnificent temples and fortresses to the Taj Mahal and modern classics like the Bahai temple and Rashtrapati Bhavan. Over eight million tourists visit India every year to sample its varied charms.