Target for 2018
Dutta is counting on FIFA’s support in many respects, not least through the “Win in India with India” programme as he believes that football needs to be better presented. “Fans have to feel as ease in stadiums, they are part of the game. Quite simply, we need more modern stadiums,” he says. But therein lies the problem, according to Lovejoy. As public transport to and from stadiums leaves a lot to be desired, matches have to be played in the afternoon or in the evening when the temperatures are often almost unbearable. The game itself also suffers because statistics have shown that matches in the evening see more goals than encounters playing during the day.
Lovejoy and Dutta are united in their criticism of the standard of refereeing, and both stress the need for more training courses to “professionalise and commercialize the game” the game. “We need to increase the fanbase,” he continues. “As soon as business realize that there are potential customers in our stadiums, they will start to invest in football.”
That would certainly be a step towards the breakthrough that people want to occur in time or the 2018 FIFA World Cup TM at the very latest. “We want to bid for that tournament,” says AIFF General Secretary Alberto Colaco. It may sound like an ambitious plan, but given the speed with which India’s economy and society is growing right now, it should not be dismissed out of hand. Football in India is alive and well and is growing in strength and stature with every passing day. This is certainly one giant who is slowly awakening from its slumber.