FIFA U-17 WC: "India is a football country now," says FIFA chief Infantino

FIFA president Gianni Infantino declared India as a "football country" after the smooth organisation of the FIFA U-17 World Cup. Infantino will give away the winners trophy after Saturday's final between Spain and England.

FIFA chief Gianni Infantino will present the glittering U-17 World Cup Trophy to the winner of the summit clash between England and Spain at the Salt Lake Stadium on Saturday.   -  Getty Images

“India is a football country now,” FIFA president Gianni Infantino declared after arriving here to chair the FIFA Council meeting tomorrow and attend the U-17 World Cup final.

Asked about the successful organisation of the FIFA U-17 World Cup, the 47-year-old said: “Thank you very much all the Indians. That’s most important. It’s a great pleasure to (be) here.”

The All India Football Federation vice-president Subrata Dutta received Infantino at the airport and later in the day he will have an informal meeting with the AIFF supremo Praful Patel.

According to sources, there could be discussions on India’s bid for the U-20 World Cup in 2019, chances of which have brightened after the overwhelming success of U-17 World Cup which is all set to topple China as the best attended event in the tournament’s history.

READ: FIFA U-17 WC: India edition set to be most-attended, highest-scoring edition in history

“While that appears to be the advantage the only drawback is that the FIFA has never allowed back to back World Cup events to one country. But with FIFA Council meeting here, it can be ratified,” an official with the local organising committee said.

The meeting tomorrow will also have discussions on the implementation of the contentious Video Assistant Referee (VAR) technology in Russia World Cup 2018 with the FIFA president keen on it.

Critics, however, said there’s not nearly enough proof that the process works properly and argue Infantino is rushing into technology prematurely.

Last December’s Club World Cup in Japan for the first time saw the VARs in a FIFA competition but it only drew flak for causing confusion. The system can only be used for goals, penalty decisions, direct red cards and cases of mistaken identity.

Infantino is also the state guest of the West Bengal government and 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 attended by a host of former footballers at Eco Park.

On October 28, he 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.

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