FIFA president Gianni Infantino, who will grace the FIFA U-17 World Cup final in Kolkata on Saturday, eventually declared India “a football country”.
Infantino thanked the Indian fans for their support on his arrival on Thursday. “Thank you very much all the Indians. That’s most important. It’s a great pleasure to be here,” he said.
The 47-year-old Swiss will chair the FIFA Council meeting in Kolkata on Friday.
Infantino received a warm welcome from the All India Football Federation vice-president Subrata Dutta at the airport. Later in the day, he will have an informal meeting with the AIFF president Praful Patel who is also staying at the same hotel.
According to a PTI report, Patel and Infantino might discuss on India’s bid for the U-20 World Cup in 2019.
“While that appears to be the advantage the only drawback is that the FIFA has never allowed back to back World Cup events in one country. But with FIFA Council meeting here, it can be ratified,” an official with the local organising committee told PTI.
Up in the itinerary, West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee will host a dinner for the FIFA chief.
Infantino, along with a 35-member delegation, will also attend a programme hosted by former footballers at Eco Park.
On Saturday, the FIFA boss will hand over the shimmering U-17 World Cup Trophy to the winners of the final clash between England and Spain at the Salt Lake Stadium.
(With inputs from agencies)