India Sports
Look beyond cricket, FIFA chief to Indians
Apr 16, 2007 - 6:04:30 PM

New Delhi, April 16 - Cricket-mad Indian fans should look beyond the game and embrace football that has a great future in the land of a billion people, said Joseph Blatter, FIFA president, here Monday.

'We are here not to fight against an established sport. I admire the game called cricket and I don't to want to change the most established sport in your country now,' Blatter said on his maiden official visit to India.

'But I always campaign for football because in this game there is no difference between caste, culture and creed or rich and poor. It is the fascination of this game that attracts people all over the world.'

Blatter arrived in the city Monday morning from Kolkata and called on President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam at Rashtrapati Bhavan.

Blatter said that the FIFA has special plans to improve football in India that is currently ranked 165th in the world and 34th in Asia.

But he urged the country's football administrators to work harder so that India can match world standards and can also compete in the World Cup in the near future.

'The Indian dream of reaching top international levels can be realised through the work done by All India Football Federation - with support from the government and corporate houses,' he said.

'But it is only if you help yourself that heaven will help you. As Confucius said: 'If your brother asks for a fish, don't give him the same, instead teach him how to catch it'.'

Blatter said that football's future is in Asia now since Europe has been 'saturated with foreign players and coaches.'

'Good coaches will come to India if a good technical and administrative infrastructure is in place.'

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