Won’t break promise to meet I-League clubs: Patel
New Delhi, April 6: Newly-elected FIFA council member Praful Patel, on Saturday said he will use his position in the world body for the greater good of Indian football.
Speaking to IANS, the All India Football Federation (AIFF) president said he would soon resolve the crisis that has arisen after seven I-League teams decided to boycott the Super Cup.
“I am happy with the victory here, because my election to FIFA council is also a proud moment for India. I also feel personally honoured to become the first Indian to represent the country in the council of the world body, which is a prestigious thing,” said Patel, moments after a record-breaking victory during the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Congress in Kuala Lumpur.
“This will help us to develop Indian football, help us to get more FIFA competition, more developmental funds, everything….it will help Indian football in the long run,” he added.
A total of 5 candidates including Patel were elected to FIFA in addition to the AFC president, and one female member for the 2019-2023 term. Patel secured the highest number of votes among the candidates, getting 38 votes out of a possible 46. In the AFC Congress, he was accompanied by AIFF senior vice president Subroto Dutta and general secretary Kushal Das.
The AIFF boss said Indian football would remain his biggest priority despite being elected to FIFA. “My responsibility is Indian football. This position I have gained today would be also to use and help Indian football. I have to use this opportunity to take it to greater heights,” he said.
Asked whether his elevated position in FIFA would help the Indian national team since it has been doing relatively well at the international level, Patel said: “That is one place where we have to work hard at the grassroots and increase all other activities to take the team forward. Of course I will use this position to get more international friendlies for India.”
Patel said there was no going back on his promise to meet the I-League clubs this month.
“We will find a solution to the problem. The work is in progress. You should know, I am in the middle of elections. I have national election in hand and till today had this FIFA election. I promised to meet them (the clubs) after 11th. I will meet them. I have already told them about it,” said Patel.
On Patel’s election, Das said “We at AIFF are extremely proud of him. This is a major development for India’s football fraternity. Best wishes on his new endeavour”.
Congratulating Patel, Dutta said: “He fully deserves this honour. His leadership has taken Indian football to higher heights. Asian football will immensely benefit from his presence as a FIFA Council member.”
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