India must develop football infrastructure: FIFA official

“India needs to build infrastructure to promote this game. You need to have quality ground so that coaches will be able to provide proper training to young players,” Harrison told reporters here.

The FIFA official was here inspecting the progress of the construction of an artificial turf at Polo ground in Shillong.

The FIFA project in Shillong is part of the "Win in India with India" programme - launched by FIFA president Sepp Blatter in 2007.

FIFA has sanctioned 10 artificial turf fields to the All India Football Federation (AIFF).
Asked whether India would qualify for the World Cup, Harrison said: “I have no doubt … India would reach its peak again in football. What they need to do now is to have the infrastructure to promote this sport.”

“You must remember India playing in the 1948 London Olympics which was its first major international tournament,” he added.

The predominately barefooted Indian team lost 2-1 to France, failing to convert two penalties in the Olympic.

Harrison also recalled India’s success during the 1950s and '60s, when the Indian football team had advanced to play in the 1950 FIFA World Cup in Brazil when all other Asian teams withdrew, although India did not travel to the tournament because FIFA barred them from playing in bare feet.

The AIFF had submitted a nine-point proposal and roadmap for the project to the FIFA.
The proposals included appointing three technical directors to formulate the plans and programmes from the grassroots to the senior level, medical support and endurance programmes for age group boys and girls, laying of artificial turf in eight football stadia and introducing new competitions for women's soccer.

“We are committed to develop football in India and we already aiding you all with the construction of artificial turfs across India besides other projects,” Harrison said.

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