Kolkata: FIFA President Gianni Infantino called India “a football country” following the successful operation of the inaugural FIFA U-17 World Cup in India. The football governing body supremo arrived in the city on Thursday, to chair a FIFA council meeting to be held in Kolkata on Friday and also attend the World Cup final on October 28.
“Thank you very much all the Indians. That’s most important. It’s a great pleasure to (be) here,” said Infantino on his second visit to the country.
Meanwhile, All India Football Federation (AIFF) vice-president Subrata Dutta received the FIFA boss at the airport, who is also expected to meet AIFF President Praful Patel later in the day in a hotel.
The council meeting on Friday is set to be chaired by the Infantino himself and discussions regarding India’s bid for the U-20 World Cup in 2019 will be among the major talking points and according to sources, the possibility of India hosting the tournament has lit up after the successful organization of the U-17 World Cup, which saw the country cross the one million mark attendance and is well on course to break the all time record set by China in 1985 as the biggest record of attendance to have attended a single event, come Saturday.
“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,” said an official of the local organising committee, quoted the Press Trust of India.
The meeting will also ponder over the use of Video Assistant Referee Technology (VARs) in the Russia World Cup next year. The technology was used in the FIFA Club World Cup for the first time, however failed to earn a good review.
Controlling the regular political feuds on football between Palestine and Israel is also another topic the FIFA delegates will have sort out after Infantino had assured the the council will take a final call on the issue also suggesting the possibility of setting up a “Monitoring committee.”
Infantino, accompanied by the 35 FIFA delegates is also the state guest of the West Bengal government and Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee will host a dinner for the them. Later the FIFA Chief will also attend at programme hosted by a host of former footballers at Eco Park.
Finally, Infantino will attend the World Cup final at the Yuba Bharati Krirangan Stadium in Kolkata on Saturday and will hand over the coveted trophy to the winner between England and Spain after the final clash.