FIFA support India for U-17 and 2022 World Cup

September 5th, 2012 - 8:10 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Sep 5 (IANS) On a day when India slumped to its worst ever rankings, world body FIFA Wednesday extended support to the All India Football Federation (AIFF) to realise its aim of hosting the 2017 U-17 World Cup and qualifying for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.

FIFA secretary-general Jerome Valcke and AIFF president Praful Patel signed the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that involves technical and strategic assistance to 169th ranked India.

“We will be providing technical and strategic assistance to the AIFF from now. That proves how serious we are about the 10-year project with India from 2012 to 2022. In between, we have the 2017 World Cup bid and India’s aim to qualify for the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar,” said Valcke.

“India stay an integral part in Asia’s development. India has to be one of the centre point of Asia to develop football. There is no football without grassroot programme. The U-17 World Cup is the perfect milestone to succeed it,” he said.

Valcke also said that India must play international matches regularly on FIFA dates.

“FIFA Rankings are very complicated. To climb the ladder in the Rankings you need to play on FIFA dates and with competitive sides. Otherwise your good show won’t reflect,” said the 51-year old Frenchman.

Patel, also a union minister, said India must be one of the qualifying teams for the 2022 World Cup.

“We are hopeful of qualifying for the 2022 World Cup. India should be one of the teams to play in Qatar. FIFA has gone out of its way to see that India emerges as a strong footballing nation,” he said.

Patel said that FIFA in principle has also agreed to give India the hosting rights of the U-17 tournament.

“We have almost prepared our documents. It requires support from the India government as well. All our development projects are directed towards the U-17 World Cup,” he said.

“Indian football is poised for a big leap after days of hibernation. We are ready to shake off our stupor and FIFA is supporting us in our cause.

“We have to start early and develop the grassroots. We need to work on the pyramid and that stays the main objective of the federation. Unless we have players being nurtured from the age of 12-13 we won’t grow. We have a 10-year Master Plan called Lakshya and our aim is to qualify for the 2022 World Cup,” he said.

Patel requested the FIFA for more grants.

“Our request to FIFA would be to provide us with a dozen more artificial turfs. FIFA has provided us with eight of them previously during the ‘Win in India in India’ project. Financial help is also solicited,” he said.

Valcke said it “would be a pleasure to serve Indian football”.

“You know I cannot wait to see football as the number one sport in the country. Sorry cricket!” he quipped.

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