He came, he saw, he conquered. FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter was at his witty best during his short stay in New Delhi on Friday (March 9). In an age where almost every alternate Media Interaction stays a boring one, Mr. Blatter lit up the proceedings at the ITC Maurya with his customary humour.
But the visionary that he is, he insisted on “India playing a part for the development of World Football.” “My aim as the FIFA President stays to establish Football in the Continent of India,” he commented, as he repeatedly stressed on India being a “Continent rather than a country.”
|Mr. Patel and Mr. Blatter in Delhi|
“I understand that there are challenges and limitations as well. But we will overcome all for the cause of the sport,” he added.
Mr. Blatter who met the Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh and the President, Mrs. Pratibha Patil during his stay in Delhi, however, didn’t commit on the two Tournaments coming to India.
“FIFA stay a democratic setup. Both are positive developments no doubt. But it’s upto the FIFA Executive Committee to decide,” he opined.
“I have been closely following the development of football in India. The FIFA Development Office is presently based in Delhi and the setting up of the Regional and the Elite Academies are a step in the right direction,” Mr. Blatter stressed.
“I had referred to India as the Sleeping Giant during my last visit to India in 2007. But I know, the giant has started to wake up,” he opined.
Mr. Patel added: “The two bids set a target for the AIFF and also the Government of India. We stay aware of the lack of good infrastructure at the moment. But I assure you, we will overcome all,” he reiterated.
“The Prime Minister wants to see India as one of the Premier Footballing Nations. Nothing can be more inspirational for Indian football.”
Mr. Blatter summed up the mood: “There cannot be World Football without India.”
Mr Zhang Jilong, the Acting President of the Asian Football Confederation was also present on the occasion.