FIFA U-17 World Cup: Patel to present India’s U-20 World Cup candidature to FIFA council

All India Football Federation president Praful Patel said the success of the U-17 World Cup signifies that India is ready to host more FIFA events.

President of the All India Football Federation (AIFF) Praful Patel speaks during a press conference ahead of the final of the U-17 FIFA World Cup.   -  AFP

India’s lone point of interest in the FIFA council meeting happening here on Friday will be pushing its bid to host the FIFA Under-20 World Cup in 2019. The All India Football Federation president Praful Patel said that we would try to make “good use” of the “goodwill” India has gained by successfully hosting the Under-17 World Cup when he addresses the FIFA council as a special invitee as the host president.

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“I will try to make good use of the goodwill in my and India’s command when I address the FIFA council where I have been invited,” Patel said in a news conference organised to ‘wrap-up’ the ongoing FIFA U-17 World Cup here on Thursday.

Patel said the invite comes from the FIFA president Gianni Infantino, who arrived here on Thursday along with a 35-member delegation for the council meeting. The FIFA president will be handing over the World Cup to the winner of Saturday’s final at the Salt Lake Stadium.

India had submitted a formal expression of interest to FIFA couple of months ago and the AIFF president has been insisting all along that he will try to convince the world body about India’s candidature despite the fact that the last U-20 World Cup was held in Asia (South Korea).

India received a big congratulation from the head of FIFA tournaments, Jaime Yarza, who said that the country is ready to host another FIFA tournament considering the fantastic infrastructural development that has happened around the U-17 World Cup.

“The stadiums which have come up here are almost of (senior) World Cup. India should be proud of whatever it has achieved so far in terms of infrastructural development and fan support,” Yarza said. Though not declared officially, India is on the verge of breaking the record attendance in any of the youth World Cups (U-17 and U-20).

Patel also said that India looks to sustain the interest generated around football by bringing up a Centre of Excellence, which will be accommodating the elite performers of the senior, age-group and the women’s team. The AIFF is also looking to “handhold” FIFA in the development plan, which also includes bringing up six academies around the country. The AIFF president said that football needs to have a pan-Indian ecosystem in order to be successful.