Praful Patel elected as FIFA Council member

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Says his induction into world football’s apex body will help the game in India

Praful Patel on 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.

All India Football Federation (AIFF) President Patel won with a record-breaking margin, securing 38 out of the 46 votes at the 29th Asian Football Confederation (AFC) congress in Kuala Lumpur.

“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,” Praful told PTI during an interview.

This will also help in terms of football education, coaching and providing exposure to India’s players abroad.

On Super Cup pull-out

The 62-year-old, 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 the 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,” Praful said.

Though he is disappointed with the clubs’ attitude back home, Praful 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.

Unprecedented

If his election to the FIFA Council was not unprecedented enough, Praful also addressed the delegation for the 29th AFC congress on behalf of its president Shaikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa, who was mourning the demise of his mother.

“I am extremely honoured at the level of support and trust that you have invested in me to lead the Asian football family again in the next four years,” Praful said on behalf of Shaikh Salman.

“I am sure that with your continued support and solidarity, we can all take Asian football to even greater heights.

“And to all those elected for the various roles — FIFA Council, AFC Vice President, Female representatives and AFC Executive Committee — congratulations.”

The Congress re-elected Shaikh Salman by acclamation as AFC president for a second four-year term until 2023.

“The hard work begins now. We have great foundations on which to build the future of our game in Asia, but the last four years have shown that success will only come through commitment,” Shaikh Salman said through Patel, the president of All India Football Federation (AIFF).

Praful was accompanied by AIFF general secretary Kushal Das and senior vice-president Subrata Datta.

The AIFF chief was one of the eight candidates vying for the spot in the election which was held during the 29th AFC (Asian Football Confederations) Congress in the Malaysian capital.

Five candidates, including Praful, was elected in addition to the AFC president, and one female member for the term 2019-2013.

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