When FIFA president Sepp Blatter visited India in 2007, for him the country was a 'sleeping giant'. In 2012, 'the giant has started to wake up.'
The FIFA chief said he is optimistic that the 2017 u-17 World Cup, for which India is bidding, could come to the country.
FIFA President Joseph S Blatter (R) speaks as Zhang Jilong, Acting President Asian Football Confederation (AFC) looks on during a press conference in New Delhi
'I look very positively towards the u-17 World Cup coming to India as it will play an important role in developing the grass-root structure of football,' said Blatter here on Friday. 'However, it's not me who takes the call. FIFA is a democratic organisation and the executive committee which has 24 members will decide it.'
The 75-year-old Swiss, who was on a day-long visit to the country, also met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and President Pratibha Patil earlier in the day.
However, Blatter said India will face stiff competition as far as hosting the 2015 Club World Cup is concerned, for which the All India Football Federation (AIFF) has decided to bid.
'The Club World Cup is moving out of Japan next year and it willbe held in Morocco. If India wants to host it, there is a possibility that it might return to Asia but India will face tough competition from other bidders,' he said.
AIFF president Praful Patel had earlier announced: 'Besides the u-17 World Cup, we are also bidding for the 2015 Club World Cup.
In India, European clubs have a huge following and if the tournament comes here, we can cash in on it. Also, a top Indian club will get an opportunity to play in the tournament.'
Among all the good news coming India's way, Blatter underlined what India needed the most.
'With India aiming to compete in the World Cup, it needs to raise an u-17 team which can compete with 24 of the best teams in the world. India has a professional league but it has not got a legacy as it should have got,' he said.
'The grass-root needs to be looked after. With FIFA setting up four regional academies here and also one elite academy, I am confident things will improve.'
Blatter also announced a few other projects in India. 'We have decided to set up FIFA's development office here in this country. We have special people attached to the project,' he said.
'We had earlier distributed $8 million for laying artificial turfs, three of which have already been completed. We have also the GOAL academies coming up.
'With the help of the government as well as the AIFF, football shall develop in India. With more than 40 per cent of the world population living in India and China, there cannot be world football without this region.'
On a different note, Blatter said goal-line technology may come into effect after FIFA decides on the subject on July 2.
'After the controversy in the 2010 World Cup when (Frank) Lampard's goal against Germany was disallowed as the referee did not see the ball crossing the line, FIFA took up the matter.
'We have done a lot of research and have zeroed in on two systems which are 99.9 per cent accurate,' he said.
'We are meeting on July 2 and most probably it will be introduced in the leagues which can afford it.'
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/indiahome/indianews/article-2112842/FIFA-major-plans-Indias-World-Cup-bid.html#ixzz1ohIvAZhG