All India Football Federation (AIFF) president Praful Patel has become the first Indian to be a member of the FIFA Executive Council. Out of the 46 voting members, Patel got 38 votes which only highlights how highly he is regarded by the fellow Asian nations.
The Indian FA's President and the Senior Vice President at the Asian Football Confederation (AFC), Patel was one of the eight candidates vying for the spot in the election which was held during the 29th AFC Congress in Kuala Lampur in Malaysia on Saturday. The AFC Electoral committee and the FIFA Review Committee conducted the eligibility review on all the candidates.
AAl- Mohannadi (Qatar), Khalid Awad A. Althebity (Saudi Arabia), Mariano V. Araneta, Jr. (Philippines), Chung Mong Gyu (Korea Republic), Du Zhaocai (China PR), Mehdi Taj (IR Iran) and Kohzo Tashima (Japan) were the others who contested for the five available spots in the council.
Subrata Dutta, who serves as the senior Vice-President of the AIFF, said, "Mr. Patel's victory is a landmark for Indian Football. Congratulations to Mr. Patel as he fully deserves this honour. His leadership has taken Indian football to higher heights. Asian Football will immensely benefit from his presence as a FIFA Council member."
The membership in the council will be for four years, from 2019 to 2023.
India recently acquired the rights to host the 2020 FIFA Women's U-17 World Cup and has already succesfully hosted the U-17 Men's World Cup in 2017.
The presence of Praful Patel in the FIFA Executive Council will give India a much stronger voice at the international stage. It will also improve India's relation with the other top member nations of the world football body.