Kolkata, Oct 26 (IANS) All India Football Federation (AIFF) president Praful Patel, who has been invited to the world football governing body FIFA’s council meeting to be held here on Friday, will look to make the most of the opportunity by pushing for India’s case for hosting the Under-20 World Cup in 2019.
“I will use all the goodwill in my and India’s command to good use when I address the FIFA council where I have been invited as the hosts,” Patel told reporters at the FIFA U-17 World Cup wrap-up press conference here.
The final composition of the FIFA Council will consist of 37 members: one President, elected by the FIFA Congress; eight Vice-Presidents and 28 other members elected by the member associations – each for a term of four years.
Patel said FIFA president Infantino has invited him to the meeting. Infantino arrived this morning and is the state guest of the West Bengal government. Chief minister Mamata Banerjee will host a dinner for the FIFA chief.
Infantino, who was accompanied by a 35-member delegation, will also attend a programme along with a host of former footballers at Eco Park.
On October 28, the FIFA boss will hand over the glittering U-17 World Cup Trophy to the winner of the summit clash between England and Spain at the Salt Lake Stadium.
Patel had earlier said that the country had made a formal bid to host the 2019 FIFA U-20 World Cup and expected the current U-17 team to be part of that tournament too.
Jaime Yarza, head of FIFA tournaments, said India is “almost” ready to host a senior World Cup, let alone the U-20 World Cup.
“These are almost (senior) World Cup level stadiums, not only U-20 World Cup level stadiums. In every aspect, they can host major event. If the development goes on like this and they do good work, I think infrastructure wise they have the ability to host any major event. There is one picture LOC (Local Organising Committee) has not sold yet. That is “Proud to be Indian.” They should be proud.”
Patel, who is also the chairman of the LOC, said India will have a Centre of Excellence accommodating all senior teams and age-group teams including six academies.
The move is aimed at uninterrupted development of the U-17 World Cup team.
“We are setting up National Centre of Excellence in the near future. I have spoken to the FIFA president that FIFA must also give us support in whichever way possible. He has been solid in his commitment to support,” he said.
“The Centre of Excellence will also be the home for senior national team, various age-group teams and women’s national team. I think it should be ready in two years’ time and will be a further boost to all our development activities,” Patel said.
“There will be six AIFF academies spread across the country where we will be housing 30-50 young boys depending on what kind of academy we are setting up so that we can continue this pipeline for Indian football. The U-17 team currently has performed exceedingly well.”
Talking about the members of India’s U-17 World Cup squad: “The Indian U-17 team will continue to play as one unit. We will not only keep them together and as close as possible. We will compensate them appropriately so that they are not only playing for the country, but also need build a career for themselves professionally. That will be ensured by AIFF,” he said.
“They will play in the I-League with some 18-19 year-old players. They will get all the infrastructural support that they have been getting during the U-17 World Cup,” Patel stated.
“We will also create another U-17 team with 13 and 14-year-olds starting from now. Our investment in grassroots programme will continue in the same vein. This team will get the same support as this U-17 national team got for the World Cup. We will continue with them and invest in them,” he said.