Bhaichung Bhutia needs no introduction. The former Indian captain, speaking to the Times of India in Chandigarh, waded into the fiercely contentious debate over the IPL-style promoted by AIFF’s commercial and marketing partners IMG-Reliance, which is to be held in the January-March time of year, and threw his weight firmly behind the new tournament.
"I think we must welcome it. Something new can always be tried. I am not saying that this (the tournament) shall come and change Indian football tomorrow or completely. But there is nothing wrong in trying and letting it come. Whatever scenario we have in football right now, we haven't not gone anywhere in terms of ranking. So I think we must welcome this tournament," reckoned Bhaichung.
He also expressed delight and confidence in India’s bid to host the U-17 World Cup in 2017 after the central government of India green signalled the ambitious proposal.
Mincing no words, Bhaichung also hinted that Jerome Valcke, Vice-President of FIFA, backed India’s bid for the billboard tournament, giving it brightened hope and also garnering the bid the required momentum it needed.
"I think with the government of India now backing and coming forward our chances of organizing the tournament has significantly brightened. I assure you we have got a very good chance in organizing the World Cup...FIFA is also quite supportive for India's bid, especially the vice-president," stated Bhaichung.
Speaking on the sidelines on the event he was in attendance to, he also added: "For us the biggest opportunity to leave a mark on the international stage would be with the under-17 World Cup. Once that happens it's going to be a big boost for all the academies, which are working at the grassroots level in the country."
India who will have to make any bid for the U-17 World cup by September to FIFA will be fiercely contesting with the likes of South Africa, Ireland, Indonesia and Uzbekistan who are the other 3 bidders. FIFA will consider all bids and make a final decision in December.