New Delhi [India], Aug 4 (ANI): All India Football Federation (AIFF) President Praful Patel has heaped praise on Odisha government for "setting an example of how a state government can help sports thrive in a particular region."
Patel's remarks came in an E-summit organised by Football Delhi, the governing body of football in India's national capital.
"I think states like Odisha need to be commended. They have actively supported every sport. That is something that other state governments should follow too," AIFF.com quoted Patel as saying.
"We have come a long way. Globally FIFA now acknowledges that Indian football has to be supported and strengthened for the sport to grow in the region. FIFA and AFC have made it clear that football has to be commercially viable and it has to support the overall ecosystem around it," he added.
"That is why it is important to professionalise the sport. The Hero I-League was the first step towards that. Now, the Hero ISL has taken it further and made more additions to Indian football," he further said.
Union Minister of Youth Affairs and Sports Kiren Rijiju, AFC General Secretary Dato Windsor John, Jagdish Mitra, Chief Strategic Officer, Tech Mahindra, Football Delhi President Shaji Prabhakaran, and Indian skipper Sunil Chhetri was also present in the virtual meet.
The Sports Minister Rijiju hailed efforts of AIFF for bringing FIFA events to India (2017 FIFA U-17 World Cup and the 2021 FIFA U-17 Women's World Cup).
"I complement AIFF for engaging with FIFA to bring this tournament. With such tournaments being hosted in India we will have a brilliant situation where the sport will further mature," Rijiju said.
"We will ensure that the U-17 Women's World Cup is one of the most successful FIFA events in India," he added. (ANI)