Mr. Jérôme Valcke, Secretary General, FIFA, in New Delhi on Wednesday (October 15) reiterated FIFA’s seriousness in developing the Beautiful Game in the Country.

“Since my last visit here (in September 2012), a lot of things have happened. India have won the rights for hosting the FIFA U-17 World Cup in 2017. A project in India has also kicked-off with the U-17 World Cup — a project to move ahead,” he said at a packed Media gathering in the Capital.

“A lot is also being done by AFC for the development of Football here, and that is commendable. Our commitment with India is, and will also be strong as it was; as India are on the right track,” he added.

“Cricket may be the biggest sport over here, but our goal is to make Football the 2nd biggest sport in India.”

Mr. Praful Patel, All India Football President, thanked FIFA for their “support.”

“We are going to bid for the FIFA U-20 World Cup. I want to thank FIFA for their support. FIFA have launched ‘Win in India’ Project and that has benefitted with eight Artificial Turfs in various Cities,” he stated.

“Winning the bid to host the World Cup has been a step forward. I’m happy to say loads of progress have taken place. Licensing of I-League Clubs have been completed under mandate of FIFA and AFC,” Patel pronounced.

Valcke who met various I-League Clubs and AIFF Executive Committee Members in the afternoon also did launch AIFF’s “strategic plan.”

“In consultation with Mr. Patel, we have devised a strategic plan from 2014 through 2017, and then move ahead to the next phase – for a long term future,” he informed.

During his two-day visit to India, Valcke held a series of meetings with Minister for Sports and Youth Affairs, the AIFF President, Executive Committee Members and Staff, various I-League Clubs and another at the ASSOCHAM.

It was in September 2012 during his last visit to the Capital when he asserted that the FIFA aimed to see a Nation hosting the World Cup where Football development was needed, and India was very much on that list.

The FIFA Secretary General also mentioned about the role of the AFC for guiding India all along, and asserted that FIFA stays committed to help the Nation further.

“After the successful launching of the FIFA 2017 U-17 World Cup, India’s next step should be to bid for the FIFA U-20 World Cup. There’s no reason for India to be shy and not move ahead to bid for the next big Tournament.”

“India was the best Project for organising the FIFA 2017 U-17 World Cup, and that was the primary reason why we felt it was this Nation’s time. The U-17 World Cup will to start the process. The Tournament will act as the platform to create your name in the Football World, and go beyond.”

“The goal for U-17 and U-20 is not for FIFA to make profits, but it is about supporting the AIFF. There needs to be more commitment from the business side,” he mentioned.

Speaking on the Hero Indian Super League Valcke felt that the “Tournament is drawing a lot of attention Worldwide.”

“The commitment within the Clubs is also to delve deep in to the grassroots and develop as a whole. There cannot be two Leagues and the I-League is the recognized League by the Federation.”

“The Indian Super League is like a booster dose in the short run. The ISL Clubs hope to proceed into the I-League eventually. The goal is to bring the two closer to take the advantage for developing the sport in the Country,” Patel concluded.