Guwa­hati shamed by poor snacks a day af­ter stone at­tack on Aussies

Hindustan Times ST (Jaipur) - - Fifau17worldcup - Rahul Kar­makar rahul.kar­makar@hin­dus­tan­times.com

The city ad­min­is­tra­tion has or­dered a mag­is­te­rial probe into sub­stan­dard snacks served at the Indira Gandhi Ath­letic Sta­dium, the venue for Group E matches of the on­go­ing U-17 World Cup soc­cer. The probe fol­lowed com­plaints lodged by of­fi­cials and spec­ta­tors.

“A four-mem­ber com­mit­tee that in­cludes the chief food se­cu­rity of­fi­cer con­ducted an in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the qual­ity of snacks such as pop­corn be­ing pre­pared, packed and sold,” Kam­rup (Metropoli­tan) deputy com­mis­sioner M Anga­muthu said.

Pre­lim­i­nary in­ves­ti­ga­tion re­vealed a Delhi-based firm named Stan­dard Sweet and Cater­ers was given the con­tract to serve snacks dur­ing the tour­na­ment.

But the firm gave a sub-con­tract to one Rahul Ku­mar of Thakur­pukur in Kolkata, who in turn as­signed the job to Bipul Saha of Barasat. Saha then gave the re­spon­si­bil­ity of pro­duc­ing, pack­ing and sell­ing the snacks to Kolkata’s Mani Mo­han Biswas.

“Our team in­spected a fac­tory near the sta­dium where the snacks were be­ing pro­duced. The fac­tory was sealed for not ad­her­ing to food safety norms,” Anga­muthu said.

The ven­dors, of­fi­cials said, would be pe­nalised af­ter the probe is com­pleted.

For Guwa­hati, host­ing in­ter­na­tional sport­ing events, this is the sec­ond em­bar­rass­ment in two days. On Tues­day, the Aus­tralian cricket team bus was dam­aged when mis­cre­ants pelted stones af­ter the sec­ond T20 match against In­dia at the Barsapara cricket sta­dium here.

The Fifa Un­der-17 World Cup that got un­der way last week was al­ways go­ing to throw up a lot of ques­tions. How, for ex­am­ple, would the young In­dian team fare against stronger, bet­ter-pre­pared op­po­nents? Or which new once-in-agen­er­a­tion foot­baller would be un­earthed? Would we see the next Lionel Messi or Me­sut Özil or Ney­mar in ac­tion?

There’s one ques­tion, how­ever, that has over­shad­owed all of th­ese: Are the or­ga­niz­ers ac­tively try­ing to keep this tour­na­ment a se­cret? Given the scale of the event—it’s ar­guably the big­gest foot­ball event In­dia has hosted—there’s lit­tle or no buzz about it. The tour­na­ment has barely be­gun, but it wouldn’t be too far-fetched to al­ready term it a colos­sal mar­ket­ing fail­ure.

Which is ter­ri­bly un­for­tu­nate given what a mas­sive op­por­tu­nity this is.

Over the last few years, In­dia’s top sports broad­caster, Star, has shown that there is a way to bring other sports out of the giant shadow cricket casts (dis­claimer: the writer was for­merly em­ployed with Star In­dia). A lot of what it has done is sim­ple but ef­fec­tive, like fo­cus­ing on cre­at­ing he­roes, gen­er­at­ing ex­cite­ment, and build­ing en­gag­ing sto­ry­lines. Some of the cov­er­age might come across as over-thetop, and all that ex­cite­ment does on oc­ca­sion feel man­u­fac­tured, but the bot­tom line is that it seems to be work­ing.

Al­most en­tirely on the back of mar­ket­ing, sports like kabaddi and do­mes­tic foot­ball have be­come sexy.

The mar­ket­ing around the World Cup seems al­most apolo-

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