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The president of the Indian FA thanked all those involved in helping India win the hosting rights…

India have won the U-17 World Cup’s hosting rights for the year 2017, as confirmed by the world football’s governing body – FIFA – on Thursday.

Praful Patel, the president of the All India Football Federation (AIFF), thanked FIFA president and general secretary, namely Sepp Blatter and Jerome Valcke, for taking a keen interest in Indian football and having visited the country last year.

“I’m extremely thankful to the FIFA Executive Committee for keeping their faith on us and granting India the right to host the 2017 U-17 World Cup. FIFA has been extremely supportive of All India Football Federation’s ambitions and taking Indian Football to the World level. Both, FIFA president Joseph S. Blatter and FIFA secretary general, Mr. Jerome Valcke have always been huge supporters of Indian Football,” said Patel.

At one point, it looked like India wouldn’t be able to submit the bid as the paperwork has still left to be done as according to the guidelines provided by FIFA. However Patel pulled a rabbit out of the hat and ensured that the process was completed before the deadline of November 15.

“I would also like to thank the Government of India and the Ministry of Sports for giving us all the necessary guarantees without which we wouldn’t have been able to bid for the U-17 World Cup.”

Patel admitted that tougher tasks lie ahead as India will be one of the participating nations in the tournament.

“However, the real challenge begins now. Together with all stakeholders we need to host it in the best possible manner and set an example for all to follow. At the same time, we understand the need to be competitive in the tournament.

“The Academies and Grassroot Project set up by AIFF has already made an impact and with the guidance of our technical team headed by Technical Director Mr. Robert Baan, we would be embarking on a detailed plan to build a competitive U-17 Indian national team.”

He mentioned that hosting the tournament would go a long way in changing the face of Indian football especially with regards to infrastructure.

“For a country like India, the priority stays to make a mark on the world stage and the FIFA U-17 World Cup hosting rights could not have come at a better time. The very fact that our boys will be getting a chance to rub shoulders with the best of the world is amazing. The overall infrastructure of the country will also be improved to be at par with the International standards which will benefit Indian football immensely.

“Hosting a tournament of such stature will also help galvanise the face of Indian football among the masses and youth of India. At the moment, football is popular in certain pockets in India. With the U-17 World Cup taking place, the popularity will surely grow and the mission of making football a pan-India sport will be realised.”

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