We have to develop football in India: FIFA secretary general

FIFA Secretary General Jérôme Valcke

"It's true that there were some problems with India. It is also because the All India Football Federation (AIFF) president (Priya Ranjan Dasmunsi) has been in the intensive care unit for a long time," FIFA secretary general Jérôme Valcke said in an an interview.

The much-awaited 'Win in India with India" project launched by FIFA president Joseph Blatter during his visit to the country in 2007 has made little progress despite lofty goals set by the AIFF.
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.

Two years down the line, progress has been made only with regard to the artificial turfs, with a two-member FIFA delegation making a round of the selected venues.
Valcke said that wheels of progress is moving slowly in India and it is taking more time than expected.
"But it will happen. Sometimes you have to wait for the right time. Sometimes it does not work as fast as you can expect. But I can tell you it's a real commitment that we must and we have to develop football in India," Valcke said.
Referring to the cricket craze in the country, the 49-year old FIFA official said: "When you see how strong India is in this (cricket) sport and how strong the television  market has developed in India, we feel we should and we definitely are working on putting the world's second most populated country on top of the list to develop football".
"But it's true that it is not easy. When you start something in a huge country like India a drop is not enough to fill the glass. But again we will do," said the Frenchman, who took over as FIFA secretary general in 2007.
He said that acting president Praful Patel met FIFA president Joseph Blatter recently and discussed the 'Win in India with India' project.
Asked about FIFA's experience of working with the AIFF, Valcke said "I think there was not really a lot of work for many many years. And now it has started. Again there were a few things which made the situation difficult. Mostly because of the change in the federation due to the president's illness.
"But  now I can tell you there is a clear understanding among all of us that we have to do something. So I am confident about that," he said.
Responding to a query on the rules and the process of sanctioning money for such FIFA projects, Valcke said FIFA was now auditing the funds it has disbursed with regard to the infrastructure development programme - the Goal Project.
"We are having audit of all the Goal programmes. We are picking a number of Goal programmes per year. And we are having a full audit on them. When there is a feeling or when there is information that either the money has been badly spent or the work has been badly done then we are working with the associations to make sure that we change things," he said.
"And we are changing and making sure that all is back in control or not. And also it means that for the associations which are not working well on one of the goal funds they cannot request  for more funds," he said.
Asked whether there were such problems in India, Valcke said: "Honestly I don't know. I can't tell you that today because I don't have information."
The AIFF got its swank headquarters - the Goal House - as a result of the Goal I project. As one of FIFA's 206 members, AIFF gets an annual grant of $250,000 while $400,000 is being spent on each Goal project in respective states in India.
Asked how important was the grassroots football development programmes in FIFA's scheme of things, Valcke said: "If you don't have kids playing football, you won't have a future team.
"You can build pitches, you can built houses. But if you don't have any player within, if you do not have a football life within, there is no chance to succeed and develop football. So definitely, there is a grassroots programme which is part of the list of new programmes we have for India," he added.

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