India declares intention to become a big tournament player

March 13 – India have revealed their intentions to bid for a slate of international tournaments as the All India Football Federation (AIFF) seeks to build on hosting the 2017 U-17 World Cup as part of its new strategic plan. 

“There is a huge scope for bidding for mega footballing events like various FIFA age group World cups and AFC competitions,” said the AIFF in its 2019-2022 strategic plan.

India hosted the U-17 World Cup in 2017, but failed to secure the hosting rights for the 2019 U-20 World Cup – that bid being hampered by the uncertainty surrounding the legal case contesting the election of Praful Patel as AIFF president. The AIFF chief, who has built a strong position within the AFC president Sheikh Salman Bin Ibrahim Al-Khalifa, will stand for a seat on the FIFA Council later this week.

The AIFF has already submitted a bid to host the U-17 Women’s World Cup in 2020, and is also preparing a bid for the 2021 U-20 Men’s World Cup, despite FIFA president Gianni Infantino’s plans to reform youth tournaments.

“The apex governing body in the country is also keen to host the AFC U23 Men’s Championship (2022), AFC Women’s Asian Cup 2022, FIFA Futsal World Cup (2024) and the AFC Men’s Asian Cup (2027),” said the AIFF.

The staging of international tournaments is part of a strategy to bolster the game at home, which still faces major domestic problems over concurrent leagues. This season Chennai City FC won the I-League. Next Sunday the Indian Super League, modelled after cricket’s phenomenally successful IPL, reaches its climax with the final between Bengaluru FC and FC Goa.

Contact the writer of this story, Samindra Kunti, at moc.l1558477692labto1558477692ofdlr1558477692owedi1558477692sni@o1558477692fni1558477692