THE BLOG BY CPD FOOTBALL | The World of Indian football and beyond by Chris Punnakkattu Daniel

FIFA President Blatter to visit India

AIFF - Joseph Sepp Blatter

AIFF - Joseph Sepp Blatter

FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter is planning to visit India according to the All India Football Federation (AIFF).

Blatter is supposed to visit India from March 9-10 on his way back to Zurich from the opening ceremony of the AFC Challenge Cup 2012 in Kathmandu, Nepal.

The FIFA President is scheduled to arrive in Nepal on March 8, before he continues his trip to India on the very next day. A visit to neighbouring Bangladesh might be also arranged in the coming weeks.

AIFF President Praful Patel has already sent out a request to Indian Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh to meet Blatter during his stay in the country.

India is planning to bid for the 2017 FIFA U17 World Cup and the visit by the FIFA President is once again a clear signal on FIFA’s interest in Indian football.

FIFA’s Executive Committee will meet in Zurich on March 31 and the AIFF need to submit the bid in time. A decision on the hosts for the 2017 FIFA U17 World Cup will be taken in the first week of April.

“Blatter’s visit shows how much importance FIFA is giving to India. The world body’s support in building the right kind of infrastructure in the country has been beyond our expectations,” AIFF Vice-President Subrata Dutta told the media after a AIFF meeting. “Already four FIFA supported academies are coming up at Kolkata, Mumbai, Bangalore and Delhi. The FIFA is even paying the salary of AIFF Academy Instructor Scot O’Donnell.”

“2017 Under-17 World Cup may be held in India, we will be bidding for the event. We have got the assurance and our team is preparing the bid document,” Dutta continued. “Since India is the host nation we will get a direct entry in to the tournament. It will encourage more kids to play football and take up it as a career option. It will also enable us to develop a quality structure for the sport.”

“The World Cup matches will be played at Kolkata, Mumbai, Bangalore, Goa, Delhi and Guwahati,” Dutta concluded.

It will be Blatter’s second visit to India, after he travelled through the sub-continent in 2007 on the occasion of AIFF’s Platinum Jubilee Celebrations. The FIFA President also witnessed the famous Kolkata derby, when East Bengal Club and Mohun Bagan AC faced each othe in the National Football League (NFL).