FIFA secretary-general Jerome Valcke will be meeting leading Indian industrialists Mukesh Ambani and Pawan Munjal during a four-day visit to the national capital from Wednesday as the world soccer body looks at India as a major football destination.
Ambani-owned Reliance Industries (RIL) and Munjal's Hero Group are big spenders in Indian sports. RIL-IMG have the marketing and broadcast rights of the AIFF while the Hero Group is one of the chief sponsors of cricket and hockey tournaments.
Valcke, who will be accompanied with, FIFA Director of Member Associations and Development, Thierry Regenass, will also meet sports minister Ajay Maken and its is been seen as the world body's attempt to garner the support of the Indian government for the U-17 World Cup. FIFA in principle has agreed to award India the hosting rights of the U-17 World Cup in 2017.
A top official told IANS that Valcke will also provide the All India Football Federation (AIFF) with its organisational review that was conducted by a FIFA delegation in August.
"The organisational review will talk about technical and strategical support the AIFF can get from FIFA," the official said.
Valcke will also review FIFA's 'Win in India with India' initiative, which has seen world football's governing body investing $8 million into the construction of a technical centre in Mumbai as well as eight turf pitches in Mumbai, Shillong, Imphal, Bangalore, Kolkata, Pune and Goa.
"The upcoming visit is proof of FIFA's continued commitment to India. We look forward to FIFA's support in order to take Indian football to the next level," said AIFF secretary general Kushal Das.
"It's our goal to further enhance our development and grassroots programmes, thus giving anyone who wants to embrace the game in India a chance to play. I believe in the next five to seven years we'll see quite a few Indian players moving to Europe," he added.
The visit coincides with the 75th year of AIFF's foundation and 50 years since India's second and, until now, last gold medal in the Asian Games football tournament.