A cue for India - GulfToday

A cue for India

Champions-League

The photo has been used for illustrative purposes.

Both the Champions League and Europa League titles this season will be going to clubs from England. While Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur will be vying for Europe’s blue riband club football completion in Madrid come June 1, it will be Chelsea and Arsenal who will figure in the Europa final in Baku.

This arouses in me – an Indian who has been a keen follower of the ‘beautiful game’ – a feeling of both awe and envy. While the first reaction is common to fans in most countries that follow football, I wonder why a country of 1.3 billion cannot figure in the top echelons of the game.

Coming to the importance of popularising the game at the grassroots, I came across a statistic that shows there’s increasing scope for those wanting to eke a successful career playing football in India. Firstly, I was quite surprised to learn that it was the U-17 FIFA World Cup hosted by India in 2017 that in fact drew more attendance at stadiums (1,300,000) than the 2011 ICC Cricket World Cup (1,275,000) that too was hosted by the country.

Another recent development that bodes well for the future of Indian football is the recent election of AIFF president Praful Patel to the all-powerful Fifa Council, the first Indian to figure in the top body.

I’m pretty sure Patel’s election will give Indian football a louder voice and we can expect to get more tournaments, international friendlies, and exposure for our kids. Will India figuring in the World Cup one day in the not too distant future remain to be pipe dream? This ardent Indian fan of football hopes not.

Claver Dias

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