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FIFA targets India.
FIFA targets India

07 Sep 2012
New Delhi, India: A FIFA delegation headed by Secretary General Jérôme Valcke concluded a four-day mission in India on Friday. As a result, football's world governing body will increase its support to strengthen the development of football in the world's second most populous country.

A memorandum of understanding setting out concrete objectives, mainly in terms of strategy, management, technical development and league and club management, was signed by Valcke and All India Football Federation (AIFF) President Praful Patel at a press conference in New Delhi.

A lack of infrastructure, a national team ranked 169th in the world, a national league struggling to compete with other leagues, especially in Europe, to attract fans and TV viewership: these are some of the challenges faced by Indian football today.

"We are committing to a 10-year development plan with India which, if approved by the FIFA Executive Committee, would include India's hosting of the FIFA U-17 World Cup in 2017,” said Valcke.

"There is no football without a strong base, without grassroots football. There is also a lack of infrastructure here which hinders the growth of the game, and we will be active in this area too. With a population of 1.2 billion, cricket cannot be the only sport in India.”

Valcke went on to explain why India had been chosen as a priority for the development of the game. "After the 2010 FIFA World Cup we consulted the Asian Football Confederation and agreed to focus our development efforts on a single country where the potential is huge rather than on the entire continent, which is so vast. And that country is India.

“However, we firmly believe that the boost of the development of football in India will have a positive domino effect on the neighbouring countries as well.” Another important milestone was the meeting with India's sports minister Ajay Maken, who gave a clear message of support for FIFA and AIFF's plans, in particular with regard to the government guarantees needed to host any FIFA competition.

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