FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter has arrived in India on his South Asian Tour earlier today. Blatter, accompanied by a FIFA and AFC delegation including AFC Acting President Zhang Jilong, arrived in the capital city of New Delhi from Nepal, where he inaugurated the AFC Challenge Cup 2012 yesterday.
The President of the governing body of football met Indian Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh and President Pratibha Patil during his brief visit to India. Blatter discussed different issues concerning the beautiful game in the country and the possibilties of India hosting the 2017 FIFA U17 World Cup and the 2015 FIFA Club World Cup.
“I brought to the Prime Minister’s notice, the need to have more land to develop infrastructure for the game. I’m happy with my meetings with them and they seemed very positive,” Joseph S. Blatter told at a press conference at the ITC Maurya Hotel.
“My aim as the FIFA President stays to establish football in the continent of India,” Blatter said and repeatedly stressed on India being a “continent rather than a country.”
“I know you have another game that is at the top, but there is surely place for two games up there. I want to establish football in this country,” Blatter underlined.
The FIFA President has called India a “sleeping giant” on a numerous times in the past and he feels that India is at the verge to prove his expectations.
“I had referred to India as the ‘sleeping giant’ during my last visit to India in 2007. But I know, the giant has started to wake up,” he opined.
“I have been closely following the development of football in India. The FIFA Development Office is presently based in Delhi and the setting up of the Regional and the Elite Academies are a step in the right direction,” Blatter continued. “A lot of centers are coming up but a lot still needs to be done if football has to be a top game in the country.
All India Football Federation (AIFF) President Praful Patel announced at the press conference that India would be making two significant bids as far as World Football is concerned.
“India are staging a serious bid to host the U17 World Cup in 2017,” Patel informed. “Apart from that, we would also bid to host the 2015 Club World Cup.”
“Both the tournaments would provide an excellent opportunity for our players to rub shoulders with the best of the world,” the AIFF President maintained.
“I understand that there are challenges and limitations as well. But we will overcome all for the cause of the sport,” Patel added. “The two bids set a target for the AIFF and also the Government of India. We stay aware of the lack of good infrastructure at the moment. But I assure you, we will overcome all.”
“The Prime Minister wants to see India as one of the Premier Footballing Nations. Nothing can be more inspirational for Indian football,” Patel added.
Talking on India’s chanced to host the FIFA competitions, Blatter told: “FIFA stay a democratic setup. Both are positive developments no doubt. But it’s upto the FIFA Executive Committee to decide.”
“We are bound by a contract with Europe and South America to host the Club World Cup there. But we are finishing the cycle in 2012. The next Club World Cup is in Morocco, therefore there is a possibility for India,” the FIFA President stated.
Joseph S. Blatter concluded the press conference with a strong statement to the delight of Indian football fans: “There cannot be World Football without India!”
Blatter and the FIFA/AFC delegation will leave the Indian capital on Saturday.
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