All India Football Federation (AIFF) President Praful Patel addressed this edition of the FIFA U-17 World Cup as a “new beginning for Indian football” and confirmed that India are “in a better position in terms of hosting a world-class event.” Patel was speaking at the Indira Gandhi Athletic Stadium in Guwahati on the sidelines of the FIFA U-17 World Cup India 2017 quarterfinal match between Ghana and Mali on Saturday (October 21, 2017).
“This is a new beginning for Indian football and I’d term it as a good beginning. This edition of U-17 World Cup is on its way to becoming the most-watched edition of U-17 World Cup in the history of the game,” he stated. “But we can’t get carried away just after this U-17 World Cup but need to keep the process on,” Patel, the Chairman of the FIFA U-17 World Cup Local Organising Committee and an integral part of the FIFA Finance Committee, added.
“This World Cup actually opens the door for more FIFA tournaments in India. We’re looking forward to seeing India as a strong football nation as well as a great host country and after hosting this edition of U-17 World Cup, we can surely say that we’re in a better position in terms of hosting a world-class event.”
Moreover, he further confirmed that AIFF have already submitted an official bid to FIFA for hosting the FIFA U-20 World Cup 2019. “Yes, we have bid for FIFA U-20 World Cup 2019 and we’re working to make it happen in every possible way.”
“We are going to present our case to FIFA with three arguments to swing it in our way. Firstly, being such a massive country and with almost one-sixth of the world population, India shouldn’t be treated just as another part of the Asia. Secondly, the game is rapidly gaining popularity in the country and thirdly, the kind of attendance we’ve seen in this U-17 World Cup is a great testimony that we’re ready for the big game and we’re capable of providing with the best facility at par with the other countries,” he informed.
“This is the first instance when the FIFA Executive Council is going to happen outside of Zurich and that too in Kolkata. It’s itself an important testimony of the fact that FIFA takes India’s case very seriously,” he maintained.