India bids for 2015 FIFA Club World Cup

New Delhi: In yet another attempt to raise the profile of the sport in the country, India is set to bid for hosting rights of the glamorous 2015 Club World Cup, besides the Under-17 World Cup in 2017.

If it sees the light of day, the eight-team tournament, which was won by Barcelona last December, will also feature a an Indian club besides the world`s best.

"We are bound by a contract with Europe and South America to host the Club WC there. But We are finishing the cycle in 2012. The next Club WC is in Morocco, therefore there a possibility for India," FIFA president Sepp Blatter said here on Friday.

Blatter, who arrived here on Friday afternoon to inspect the infrastructure in view of the Under-17 World Cup, paid courtesy visits to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and President Pratibha Patil and discussed possibilities of hosting the tournaments.

"I have spoken to the PM about the facilities, football infrastructure," he said.
As far as the U-17 World Cup was concerned, Blatter said hoped that India`s bid would be received well by the FIFA executive committee.

"I am sure it will be received well in FIFA. I can`t assure as there is a 24-member executive committee." All India Football Federation (AIFF) president Praful Patel too, was optimistic about India`s chances.

"We are in a serious bid to host the U-17 World Cup in 2017. That is our mission and objective. I am hoping to see the bid going through. We will make a strong pitch.

"If we start working on a under-17 team now, we will be ready for the World Cup. We can get a wild card entry as the hosts," Patel told reporters here.

AIFF also has its eyes trained on the Club World Cup. "We, on behalf of the AIFF, will bid to grant us the World Club Championship in 2015. That will give us the best exposure.

"One top club will also be able to play from India." Patel said the thought of brushing shoulders with the top international footballers, will also "motivate" the best clubs of India.

Acknowledging that there is a serious lack of infrastructure in the country, Patel said, "These initiatives will put pressure on the AIFF and the Indian government to be able to develop world class infrastructure in a `time-bomb` fashion."

"The Prime Minister was also very forthcoming and enthusiastic to see India as one of premier footballing nations in the world."

Quoting Blatter, Patel said, "There cannot be a world of football without India."
"These will be the turning points (in Indian football)," he added.

Patel admitted that Indian football is yet to meet the expectations. "India is certainly not meeting the expectations. There are a lot of limitations. Unless and until we have a strong foundation, we will not improve," he said.

In the context of development of football in India, Blatter said "the Under-17 World Cup and the club tournament will be the first step towards (achieving) that".