/ AFP PHOTO / SAJJAD HUSSAIN
/ AFP PHOTO / SAJJAD HUSSAIN

New Delhi: Praful Patel Saturday said his unprecedented election to the FIFA Council means more tournaments, international friendlies and exposure for India, besides a chance to operate in close proximity to the developed football nations. “This signifies India’s place in world football. This will give us more voice. We would look to get more tournaments, international friendlies, exposure for our kids,” Patel told PTI during an interview.

This will also help in terms of football education, coaching and providing exposure to India’s players abroad. The 62-year-old, a member of parliament, at the same time, expressed disappointment at the I-League clubs’ refusal to turn up for the Super Cup. “Despite my busy schedule because of the general elections back home and today’s FIFA Council, I assured them that I would meet from April 11 to 14. But, despite my assurance, they acted in a manner that is unbecoming of sportsmanship. What is the point of having this meeting now since they have pulled out of the Super Cup,” Patel said.

He may have become a member of the prestigious FIFA Council but Patel said his first priority remains the betterment of Indian football. “Regarding the future road-map of Indian football, we are all working hard in the right direction, I can assure you all.” Three days before the start of the Super Cup last month, seven I-League clubs pulled out of the tournament citing unfair treatment by the AIFF, plunging the game into chaos.

The AIFF chief assured the aggrieved clubs that he would meet them and try to address their concerns. However, some of the clubs were not fully convinced by Patel’s assurances. Though he is disappointed with the clubs’ attitude back home, Patel said his induction into world football’s apex body will definitely further the game in India. “This will also help us to sign more and more Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the developed football nations,” the seasoned administrator said.

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