Navi Mumbai: The FIFA and AFC are happy with India’s success as the hosts of major tournaments like the just concluded FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup, and want to focus more on the country as a growing football destination, said AFC President Shaikh Salman bin Ibrahim Al Khalifa, who was in Navi Mumbai.
The World Cup has been hosted across three cities – Bhubaneswar, Goa, and Navi Mumbai – with the AFC President attending the summit clash between Colombia and Spain at the DY Patil Stadium, Navi Mumbai, on Sunday.
Shaikh Salman arrived in Mumbai on Friday evening, along with AFC General Secretary Datuk Windsor John, Deputy General Secretary Vahid Kardany, and met AIFF President Kalyan Chaubey, Secretary General Dr. Shaji Prabhakaran, Treasurer Kipa Ajay and the Executive and Technical Committee members of the AIFF.
The AFC President said, “FIFA and AFC want to focus on India to host more future events, and over the last few years since I’ve taken over at the AFC, I think India has played a big role in Asian football. You have hosted two World Cups and the Senior Women’s AFC Asian Cup here. India is a major country in Asia and hopefully, it can take it’s position at the same level in football, in the coming years.”
Meeting the new AIFF President Kalyan Chaubey, Shaikh Salman extended the AFC’s full support towards the growth of Indian Football.
“I’ve met the new management here, and I will always give all the support I can for India to succeed as a footballing nation. India’s success will be our success in Asia,” said Shaikh Salman. “We’ve always looked at India as a sleeping giant, waiting to wake up, and we’re waiting for that moment.
I’m sure with the leadership of the new management, and that of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, football will play an important role here in India. We have already seen so many supporters come to the stadiums.”
The AFC President feels that India has a greater chance for success in the future.
“India has taken great strides in recent times, but the pace could be even faster. Of course, the COVID pandemic has not helped in the last two years, and that was not just in India. There will always be challenges, be it COVID or other things, but I think the determination is there from all stakeholders to progress.
“It’s a country of more than 1.3 billion, so there must be enough talent in India. They need all the support they can get from the stakeholders, the AIFF, the government, the private sector, and all other parties for the game to succeed,” he said. “I’m sure football has great potential to succeed in India.”