By Sankalp Phartiyal
NEW DELHI, March 9 FIFA president Sepp
Blatter reckons "sleeping giants" India are slowly waking up to
their potential and that bids to host two world championships
are positive developments.
The head of world soccer's governing body was on a visit to
India, which has a population of 1.2 billion people but is 158
in FIFA's rankings.
"To wake up a sleeping giant you need more than one alarm
clock. We have put different alarm clocks here. And I have to
say the giant is not any longer sleeping, it's already starting
to wake up," Blatter told reporters on Friday.
"My aim as the FIFA president is to establish football in
the continent of India. I have been closely following the
development of football in India.
"The FIFA development office is presently based in Delhi and
the setting up of the regional and the elite academies are a
step in the right direction."
The All India Football Federation announced on Friday that
the country were planning to bid to host the World Club Cup in
2015 and the Under-17 World Cup in 2017.
"Both are positive developments no doubt. But it's up to the
FIFA executive committee to decide," Blatter said.
Blatter, who was accompanied by Asian Football Confederation
president Zhang Jilong, met India's Prime Minister Manmohan
Singh and President Pratibha Patil during his visit to Delhi.
Soccer in cricket-mad India is popular only in pockets but
big European teams have turned their focus to India for
branding, lured by the promise of one of the world's fastest
growing economies and a huge youth population.
(Writing by Sudipto Ganguly in Mumbai; editing by Mark Meadows)